Sunday, March 5, 2023

Bureau of Indian Affairs Gets an "F" for FAILURE on Protecting Native Americans From Tribal Harm

The issue of tribal sovereignty and self-governance is complex and controversial. 

Many argue that tribes should always be allowed to exercise their sovereignty and self-governance, as these are inherent rights that should be respected by the United States government. On the other hand, some argue that there are times when the United States should intervene in tribal affairs, either for the sake of justice and protection of the individual Indian's civil and human rights.

MISSION STATEMENT of the Bureau of Indian Affairs:
The mission of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives.

There is an EPIC failure on the BIA's part of protecting AMERICAN INDIANS

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has historically been criticized for its role in perpetuating a policy of non-interference in tribal affairs. This policy has often been seen as enabling tribal leaders to diminish or destroy democracy within their tribes, while also giving the BIA tacit approval for such actions.

One of the main criticisms of the BIA's policy of non-interference is that it allows tribal leaders to act with impunity, without fear of outside intervention or oversight. This can lead to situations where tribal leaders are able to engage in corrupt or undemocratic practices, such as nepotism, cronyism, or voter suppression, without any consequences.

The BIA's policy of non-interference can be seen as undermining the principles of democracy and human rights within tribal nations. By allowing tribal leaders to act with impunity, the BIA is essentially condoning the violation of the rights of tribal members to free and fair elections, due process, and equal protection under the law.

It's important to note that the BIA's policy of non-interference is not without its merits. In many cases, tribes have fought hard for their sovereignty and the right to govern themselves without outside interference. This includes the right to make their own laws, enforce those laws, and manage their own resources.

The question is what role the United States should play in the affairs of sovereign tribal nations? Proponents of tribal sovereignty argue that tribal nations have the right to govern themselves as they see fit, without interference from outside parties. This means that they should have control over their own laws, economies, and social structures, and that the United States should not impose its own values or priorities on them.

At the same time, there are situations where the United States may need to intervene in tribal affairs.  If a tribe is engaged in practices that are harmful or unjust, such as discrimination or human rights abuses, which can be clearly shown in the disenrollment processes, the United States may have an obligation to intervene in order to protect the rights and well-being of tribal members.  

Ultimately, the question of whether tribes should always be sovereign and self-governing or whether the United States should intervene in their affairs depends on the specific circumstances involved.  The United States also has a responsibility to uphold the principles of justice, and to take action when necessary to protect the rights and well-being of all people, including those who belong to tribal nations, and those that the nations have kicked to the curb through disenrollments, in some cases acting outside tribal constitutions.

The question of whether the BIA's policy of non-interference enables tribal leaders to diminish or destroy democracy within their tribes is a complex one. While there are certainly cases where the BIA could and should intervene to protect the rights and well-being of tribal members, it is also important to respect the sovereignty and self-determination of tribal nations. Finding the right balance between these competing interests is essential if we are to promote democracy and human rights within tribal nations while also respecting their inherent rights to self-governance.  DOING NOTHING is not the right balance

As the tribal disenrollments continue, the silence of the BIA is deafening. There is no condemnation or censure, no outcry over the often illegal and discriminatory acts, and no effort made at all to slow the pace of these actions. Thus the tribal leaders know there will be no consequences for their crimes, and they have permission to escalate their activities without any concern for the harm they are causing.

Disenrollment has been used as a tool by tribal leaders to consolidate their power and control over their tribe, and to exclude individuals or families that may be seen as a threat to their authority.

The fact that the BIA has not taken a more active role in addressing this issue is concerning to those of us who have lost their tribal citizenship. The agency has a responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of tribal members, and to ensure that tribal leaders are acting in accordance with the law and with the best interests of their people.  Why should we lose OUR federal recognition as tribal without a federal entity double checking?

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