Saturday, April 1, 2023

Aren't Native Americans Entitled to Civil Rights Protections? Paul Johnson, American Indian Activist Discusses Which Civil Rights Are Being Violated.

 I'm reprising an July 2015 post where I invited a friend, Indigenous Activist Paul Johnson, to write a piece on the civil rights that we constantly talk about, but to many, they only have a vague idea what it means.    I'll add some thoughts on how these violations relate to my family's issues at Pechanga.    

The recent resolution from the NNABA supporting Equal Protection and Due Process for those who have been divested of the Right of Tribal Citizenship
is shining a light on the civil and human rights violations that accompany many of the disenrollment actions happening throughout Indian Country.  So what are these civil rights to which we refer, and how are they being violated?
When we speak of the right to due process we are citing the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Due process provides protections to those facing a proposed action, applies in civil and criminal proceedings, and has specific requirements.
Here are the requirements in a nutshell:
1.     Unbiased tribunal
2.     Notice of proposed action and the grounds on which it is based
3.     Opportunity to present a reason why the action should not occur
4.     Right to call witnesses on your behalf
5.     Right to know what evidence is brought against you
6.     Right to have the decision based only on the evidence
7.     Right to counsel
8.     Right to a public proceeding
9.     A record of the proceedings
10.  Right to judicial review

Here is how the Fourteenth Amendment says it:
...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
Most disenrollees receive no prior notification that their tribal citizenship is in jeopardy. Tribes refuse to conduct hearings, or provide the opportunity to present evidence or witnesses. The decision is usually made in private meetings of Enrollment Committees, based on dubious and spurious evidence and without an independent judicial review. 

These are violations of the right to due process as guaranteed by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, but the ICRA has no provision to enforce denial of due process. Was it an oversight of Congress to omit the power to enforce these rights for tribal citizens? The obvious answer is NO!

 And we'll address that in a subsequent post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How is there any justice for our Wrongfully Disenrolled families when you have to go to the same people perpetrating the crime against you??? What country are we living in??!