Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Indian Country stuck with bad Republican

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) serves as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian issues. Photo from Facebook

Dina Gilio-Whitaker of the Center for World Indigenous Studies questions whether Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) adequately represents Indian interests as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee:
If we look a little deeper, we can possibly project why Rep. Bishop reacted so irrationally to the antiquities question. According to OpenSecrets.com, Bishop’s top campaign contributors (by far) come from the oil and gas industry. One of the reasons Basin and Range needed protecting, according to the BLM, is that for decades it has been threatened by various development schemes, including from the oil and gas sector. Protecting it by making it a national monument would thus present one less avenue for Bishop to return a political favor.

Another thing to keep in mind is that very few people in congress have any actual knowledge of Native history, worldviews, politics, or even federal Indian law, for that matter, unless they come from a district with a lot of Natives. And even then their knowledge can be quite limited.

Take Bishop, for example. He has a degree in political science from the University of Utah and taught high school-level American government for many years. He represents a district that is racially 88% white and 1% Native American. It is highly doubtful that he ever took any courses that taught Native studies in any depth, let alone spent much time with Native American constituents.

As the chair of a committee that directly oversees Native American issues he would be exposed to Native viewpoints frequently, but given his conservative politics, his loyalties are to big business, which are more often than not adversarial to Native interests. He did everything he could do block the new federal acknowledgement process regulations, for example. As Natives, we want those who represent our interests to be friends, but with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Let’s face it: where Rep. Bishop is concerned, the real bull crap is that we’re stuck with him representing us.

Get the Story:
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Rep. Ron Bishop and The Real 'Bull Crap' (Indian Country Today 7/28)

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