Opinion: 'Super sovereignty' lobby misrepresents crime studies

Ed. Note: The author of the opinion, Scott Seaborne, has worked with anti-Indian groups like the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance.

"Over the past two years, the tribal sovereignty lobby has missed few opportunities to complain about non-Indians raping American Indian women and the cause of it—the lack of authority to arrest and prosecute non-Indian predators—the United States Supreme Court case of Oliphant v Suquamish Tribe. In Oliphant, the Supreme Court, in 1978, ruled that tribal courts must not have jurisdiction over non-Indians because that power is inconsistent with their status as “ dependent” sovereigns.

Since the day the decision was rendered, tribes and their tribal sovereignty supporters have considered this case to be the one of most objectionable infringements on tribal sovereignty. Since Oliphant, the Supreme Court rendered five more court decisions (Montana, Brendale, Strate, Hicks and Atkinson) that further limited tribal regulatory or judicial powers over non-Indians.

Reeling from these perceived setbacks, tribal leaders and their lawyers joined with academia to discuss ways to stem the tide of losses at the Supreme Court. Two projects that emerged from this effort are the Tribal Supreme Court project run by the Native American Rights Fund and a largely unknown project known as the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative or TSPI.

N. Bruce Duthu, noted Indian law expert and Professor of Law at the Vermont School of Law, in his book, American Indians and the Law, reveals TSPI was born on September 11, 2001 while terrorists where attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Tribal leaders, lawyers and unnamed members of Congress met with Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) to plan a frontal assault on any Supreme Court’s decision that, in their opinion, eroded tribal sovereignty."

Get the Story:
Scott Seaborne: Crime Data Misrepresented to Serve Hidden Tribal Agenda (Indian Country Today 6/14)

Join the Conversation