By Elaine Willman, Executive Director, Citizens Standup! Committee
Letter to the Editor (Wall Street Journal)
Proof that a March 1st factual editorial, “Big Chief Pataki,” struck a needed nerve is the tirade launched by Indian Country Today Newspaper, owned by Oneida Nation of New York. Their overkill retort, much like firing a howitzer at an ant, is what intimidation is all about. Across rural America, tribal gaming and government leaders have mastered intimidation. We urge WSJ not to shrivel and to pursue the truth occurring in Intimidation country today. Here are but a few issues wreaking havoc:
1. Some 566 tribal governments, representing 1% of the U.S Population in 50 states may contribute unlimited, unregulated, hard-dollar campaign contributions from their general treasuries (taxpayer dollars). Do you know of any other American government that may contribute even a dime? The end result is financial bondage of major governors and senators across the country (Governors Pataki, Davis, Locke; Senators Cantwell, Dashle, Inuoye, Murray – and 106 House of Representative members who have formed the “Congressional Caucus for Native Americans.”)
2. No other ethnicity or special interest group is allowed casino gaming, a second and limitless source of, again, unregulated, unlimited campaign finance contributions to do the specific bidding of over 200 tribes overwhelming the political process in their respective states.
3. The Environmental Protection Agency, from thin air, may artificially construct or establish “reservations” to provide tribes “Treatment as States” (TAS) that gives tribal governments control and authority superior to a state for purpose of air and navigable waters. The Town of Hobart, Wisconsin, Mille Lacs County, Wisconsin, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Yakima, Washington are just a few examples threatened with an absolute loss of state or public control of its air and water. EPA in its implementation of TAS finds the Equal Footing Doctrine that protects the sovereignty of states, irrelevant.
4. There are literally hundreds of current congressional bills amending the Internal Revenue Code to continue exemptions and exceptions to sales, utility and other federal and state taxes. Tribes, in spite of repeated Supreme Court rulings, continue to tax non-tribal members. The U. S. Constitution refers to “Indians not taxed” solely as a description of non-eligibility to vote at time the document was crafted. This phrase has created enormous budget deficits in every state containing Indian reservations because revisionist historians and lobbyists insist that the phrase means Indians should be not be taxed.
5. Most reservations refute the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, holding enrolled tribal members at their mercy for even meager subsistence. Although every Native American born here is a U.S. citizen, the gutless Indian Civil Rights Act fails to enforce the U.S. constitutional rights of enrolled tribal members.
WSJ and other mainstream media need only a cursory probe of the above issues, to discover traumatized enrolled members muzzled by their tribal governments. Neighboring rural America is under constant tribal assault, with endless help of Federal resources, for control of air, water, land and regional economies.
Remember, every single human alive today derives from an aboriginal or indigenous origin. So what? And the U.S. Constitution provides no preference to a “First” American, as opposed to a second or billionth American. There is, however, mention of “We, the people, equality and equal protection.”
And lastly, remember that to legitimately raise issues of jurisdictional and governance conflict is not racist; but blood-quantum established tribal governments are limited to a race.
Urban America is either asleep at the wheel, or unable to make the very clear distinction between deserved and timeless respect for Native American culture and tradition, and the quite different animal called “tribal government.” Native American culture is truly majestic and benign. Tribal governments, however, are an anachronistic albatross holding enrolled members hostage and attempting to do the same with America. Thank you, WSJ, for the courage to start a much needed dialogue and inquiry.