REALLY, Secretary Washburn?
In a recent interview with Indian Country TODAY, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn discussed the scourge of Tribal Disenrollment. It was nice of him to do that, as he's NEVER discussed it with, you know, THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN DISENROLLED.
Washburn says: “I think the question is, should tribes always be sovereign and self-governing? Or are there times when the United States should trample over their sovereignty and self-governance for some other purpose – the principle of justice or equity or something like that?”
Tribes give up portions of sovereignty all the time, for gambling casinos and building permits. Was Secretary Washburn a supporter of South African sovereignty, or was he a supporter of divestment? South Africa had a SOVEREIGN RIGHT to practice APARTHEID in their country, didn't they? NOW, under his watch, tribes like the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and their "chief" Mark Macarro practice APARTHEID on their reservations.
Washburn continues: One can make a solid argument that the United States never has any business trampling on tribal sovereignty and self-governance, but that’s not satisfying to everyone because we all see occasionally a tribe doing something that well-thinking people outside the tribe disagree with. These are just agonizing decisions and I’m not convinced that the United States is better at making these decisions on average than tribes are at making them themselves,”
Washburn is being deliberately obtuse. He knows how these things go. A few people are jealous of others, they call their aunt on the enrollment committee. In Pechanga's case, the disenrollment action heated up when to representatives of large families found that current enrollment committee members were shuffling papers for a decade, to keep another large family (not related) OUT of the tribe. This month is the TENTH anniversary of the Apis family disenrollment. Oh, yeah, their cousins are still in the tribe. This wasn't an agonizing decision, this was cold and calculated. If Washburn doesn't believe the US s better at these decisions, he shouldn't be Secretary. He should be on a tribal council.
Then again, he may be right, his predecessor, Larry Echohawk, screwed up the San Pasqual tribe.
It's SHAMEFUL that it took MURDER and death to bring Mr. Washburn out of hiding on disenrollment and stripping of citizenship of Native Americans.