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Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people






A young resident of the Elem Indian Colony in California takes a stand against tribal disenrollment. Photo: StopDisenrollment

Harold Monteau, a citizen of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, calls on Congress to take another look at the Indian Civil Rights Act to address abuse, corruption and disenrollment among tribal governments:
The U.S. Congress may have to, and maybe should, revisit the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA) considering the abrogative behavior of tribal governments, as of late, towards their own people regarding the Civil Rights of individual Indians, and in light of the corruption being exposed by numerous U.S. Attorney prosecutions.

The lack of such rights and the use (abuse?) of the defense of Sovereign Immunity by tribal governments has become a shield to sometimes illegal activities within tribal government and as a shield when committing egregious acts against the tribe’s own people. This is especially true regarding the recent use of mass disenrollment by tribal governments to enlarge shares of “per capita” payments from Indian Gaming Revenue or to put one faction of the tribe into perpetual power. In some cases, there is an element of fraud when re-recognized or newly recognized tribes use various rolls (or descendants from those rolls} to justify Federal Recognition by the U.S. Administrative (BIA) Congressional and Judicial Branches and later disavow those enrollees. In any other context, that would be looked at as fraud upon the U.S. Government. Tribes, tribal attorneys and some legal scholars have misconstrued Supreme Court decisions to give tribal governments unfettered “plenary” power over membership decisions while providing no remedies for tribal members harmed by these decisions. Due process is literally non-existent or, at best, illusory, when any appeal is limited to the body that made the harmful decision in the first instance, or limited to a judiciary controlled by that body.

But, the U.S. Trustee stands idly by while the tribes, in the capacity of surrogate U.S. policy enforcers, continue to engage in what amounts to civil rights and human rights violations. Tribes are enforcing a U.S. policy, about blood quantum based tribal enrollment, and arbitrary termination of tribal membership, that has its origins in the allotment and termination era when the U.S. Indian Policy was to “disappear” all Indians into the mainstream. The trustee sits idly by while tribes engage in self-termination by arbitrary disenrollment of the trustee’s beneficiaries which serves the interests of the trustee in lessening its responsibilities and eventually eliminating its responsibilities towards Native Americans. Federal law and Federal Courts do not recognize any remedies for disenrolled Indians. In fact, the trustee seems more than happy to stop access to federal benefits for disenrolled Indians.

Read More on the Story:
Harold Monteau: Time For Congress To Revisit The Indian Civil Rights Act (Indian Country Media Network 3/22)