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Outlawing Tribal Sovereignty

Published: April 26, 2018, Author: JayTaber
Outlawing Tribal Sovereignty

Termination as U.S. Policy

In May 2016, the paradox of dual citizenship for American Indian tribal members–caught in a legal system that is used as a weapon against them–was the topic of discussion at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. At the Native Peoples, Native Politics conference, Seneca Nation attorney general Robert Porter noted that the American system of law is intended to control Native people. U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa, Hopi, observed that inherent tribal legal authority has been stripped away by Congress and the Supreme Court.

In May 2017, I wrote in my post The Terminators that termination of Indian tribes as sovereign political entities is endemic in the current presidential administration. Trump’s hostility toward tribal sovereignty is long-standing. As competition to his casinos, and as opponents of his fossil fuel export plans, tribal sovereignty is viewed by Trump as justification for renewing tribal termination as U.S. policy.

Indeed, Interior Secretary Zinke’s actions and rhetoric harken back to the Termination Era of the 1950s. Remarks made by Trump in a 2017 Presidential Statement signal his belief that tribal programs are unlawful racial privileges, rather than part of a trust relationship rooted in treaties and law. ‘If that is the case,’ says the Indian Law and Policy Center, ‘then all of the legal rights that Indian tribes possess would be unconstitutional racial benefits and the legal status of tribes would be terminated.’

In Privatizing the Reservation, Stanford Law Review (April 2018) examines the Trump administration’s attack on tribal sovereignty rooted in the collective religious significance, socio-economic sustenance and territorial governance of American Indian homelands. Indigenous self-determination, as rooted in the international human rights regime, is viewed by Trump as an obstacle. His running rough-shod over the Standing Rock Sioux leaves no doubt where he stands on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In the April 2018 Politico article Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing, the imposition of Medicaid work rules is viewed as another tool for extinguishing tribal sovereignty. Ron Allenformer president of the National Congress of American Indianssays the Congressional attack on Medicaid will devastate the Indian Health Service  Indeed, President Trump’s Anti-Indian agenda reflects Vice President Pence’s Christian Dominion holy war against socialism and Indigenous peoples. Denying American Indians health care, guaranteed by treaties and the U.S. Constitution, is just the first step.

Christian Dominion in America

While Liberal progressives are mourning in America over the election of a sociopath as President of the United States, believers of Christian Dominion are rejoicing at the election of a Christian fundamentalist as Vice President. As a charismatic movement of world conquest founded on bigotry and murder, this form of faith–professed by such notables as Sarah Palin–threatens democratic aspirations worldwide. As news and social commentators scramble to explain how this happened, the line of descent from Reagan to Trump is revealed in such publications as Religion Dispatches magazine.

Understanding Christian fascism in the US, however, requires a lesson in Christian Right politics, whose overwhelming success in subverting American democracy is attributable to the supreme strategist Paul Weyrich–the right-wing analyst who made the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush possible. Jerome Himmelstein’s book To the Right patiently follows the transformation of American conservatism brought about by social movement entrepreneurs like Weyrich, who brokered the marriage of conservatism with dominionism.

For readers who wish to learn more, INSiGHT journal, Volume 2, FALL 2016 examines religious hysteria in America, and the spiritual warfare of Puritanical conservatism against socialism and the Indigenous peoples’ movement.

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