Friday, February 12, 2021

Open Letter To Rep. Deb Haaland Candidate for Secretary of the Interior

Rep. Deb Haaland New Mexico

Dear Rep. Haaland

I stand with most of Indian Country, as we rejoice in your nomination to be the first Native American Secretary of the Interior for President-Elect Joe Biden.  I congratulate you on your consideration for such an important position.

As you know, the Secretary of the Interior plays in important role in Indian Country, and I felt it was important to ask you where you stand on several important and timely issues affecting Indian Country.  Original Pechanga Blog has been discussing the injustice of Tribal Disenrollment for over 13 years.

Since 2004, Tribal Disenrollment has harmed over 11,000 Native Americans.  Well more truly, living Native Americans as our hgonored ancestors have also been disenrolled.  A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) under the George W. Bush Presidency referenced the fact that internal tribal disputes “seem to be occurring more and more frequently”. Such disputes have resulted in the disenrollment, banishment, denial of membership, stripping of voting rights, and/or denial of health/medical benefits of thousands of Indians.

In response to the growing number of these types of disputes, the GAO felt it was necessary and appropriate that nominees to the Secretary of Interior be asked how they would address such issues. While the question posed in the GAO report asks about a nominee’s personal experience working with tribal leadership in trying to resolve or prevent such disputes, I believe it is also important to know how you have or would work with individual Indians in trying to resolve or prevent such disputes.

Therefore, I would like to know where you stand and what you believe your role as Secretary would be regarding (1) internal tribal disputes and (2) the protection and preservation of individual Indians’ basic rights in internal disputes where there is little due process. 

In addition, do you believe that tribal sovereignty and the protection of basic individual rights are mutually exclusive of each other? 
Does sovereign right to harm Native American become acceptable when it happens by their own tribes? 
Is divesting from Tribal Nations in the United States that practice Apartheid, like Pechanga something you'd support?

At your August 4 2020 Town Hall meeting you were asked by Cam Foreman, grandson of the first tribal chairman of the Redding Rancheria if you would discuss disenrollment with your colleagues. You responded that you would.  Now is the opportunity for that to happen.   PLEASE, help THOUSANDS of Natives come back to the circle of belonging and bring an end to disenrollment

We would also like to know where you stand on protecting the rights of Cherokee and Seminole Freedmen who are tribal citizens and where you stand on fulfilling the promises in the Treaties of 1866 to Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Freedmen? (Creek and Choctaw Freedmen were disenrolled as pure racism. )

I eagerly await your response to the questions raised above.

Respectfully submitted,

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