By Darrel Smith
Citizens Equal Rights Foundation and its’ sister organization Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERF and CERA) have been researching and writing about federal Indian policy for about fifteen years. Our membership includes Indians and non-Indians from both on and off reservations. This diversity helps us understand the impact of Indian policy from the “inside out” and the “bottom-up”. We send our newspaper, CERA NEWS, to selected administration officials, Congress, judges including the Supreme Court, all governors and attorneys general, several state legislatures and most of the major media.
The problems related to federal Indian policy have rapidly increased in both quantity and intensity with: 1). the advent of tribal gambling, 2). an out-of-control recognition process for new tribes, and 3). a liberal fee-to-trust land conversion procedure. Tribal governments now have access to billions of dollars of unaccountable and uncontrolled gambling revenues. They also enjoy a huge campaign finance loophole. Unless changes are made, we are only beginning to see the problems that will arise from federal Indian policy.
America’s most basic values such as legal equality, popular sovereignty, and our constitutional system of an enumerated, limited, constitutional government have worked very well throughout our history for the vast majority of American citizens. These values and this system have allowed a very diverse people to experience an unprecedented level of freedom, tranquility and prosperity. It is the violation of these same principles that have led to most of the problems associated with federal Indian policy. The addition of tribal governments outside of the federal constitutional framework violates the guarantees of a federal and republican form of government. Most importantly, it violates the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The fundamental solution to the problems associated with Indian policy can be found in restoring the same constitutional principles that are now being violated. Reestablishing the preeminence of our federal system of government with full and equal constitutional protection for all citizens would restore freedom, tranquility and prosperity. Simply insuring all citizens the equal protection of the law guaranteed in the constitution would end most of the abuses flowing from federal Indian policy. Fortunately, recent Supreme Court decisions appear to be moving in that direction. Please join with us as we promote the equal protection of the law for all citizens.