Peter d'Errico: Federal law causes lawlesness on reservations

"The latest bad news about Indian reservations is getting worse; but there is a silver lining.

U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales says violence on Indian reservations is “a kind of brutality that I don’t think a lot of people understand completely.” Homicides, child sexual assaults, and domestic violence against women are commonplace.

Columnist Nicholas Kristoff discusses poverty and “suffocating hopelessness” as characteristics of reservation life. He suggests changes in Tribal land laws and more traditional cultural education as responses.

The New York Times reports “epidemic levels” of child abuse on the Spirit Lake reservation. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs, “What are you doing to make sure we’re responding to this appropriately?”

The question of what is appropriate is key. It needs to be answered by prosecutors, educators, and B.I.A. personnel, and, especially, by people working with federal Indian law. Federal Indian law is the reason reservations are failing and people are being suffocated by hopelessness."

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