Tribal leaders not only have to worry about their own nation, but others. For example, if there is a really outspoken tribal leader in the Northwest, their opinion could impact tribes in the Southwest, he said. And they don’t want to do that. “The bigger consequence could be a negative consequence for all of Indian Country,” Washines said. That negative consequence was the last thing W. Ron Allen wanted as president of the National Congress of American Indians during the last impeachment process of former President Bill Clinton. Allen was and is still is the tribal chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. He said the organization didn’t want the impeachment process to hurt tribal nations. “Our main concern was would it taint and possibly undermine the unique relationship between Indian Country and the White House,” he wrote in an email in September. “The Clinton Administration was the first to elevate the government-to-government relationship with all 554 Tribes in 1994. It was a historic elevation in the respect for Tribes’ sovereignty and historic obligations to the Indigenous people of America.” A Gay Kingman, Cheyennne River Sioux, works with 16 tribal chairmen, presidents and chairpersons as the executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association. She also understands why tribal leaders won’t talk about the impeachment. She mentioned how Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer attended the signing of an executive order by President Trump last week. Lizer stood next to Trump and Lizer received a lot of flak. She also cited how last year men in headdresses at a Trump campaign rally in Montana received criticism. Because of those incidents “I can see where people are careful,” she said. When it comes to the impeachment inquiry, she said Congress is “following the law” because it’s an act set out in the Constitution.
Donald Trump is the fourth president subject to a congressional impeachment inquiry; recalling the Nixon era.https://t.co/h0Og1wdxEs— Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (@jourdanbb) October 2, 2019
If Trump is impeached, “his cabinet continues,” she said. It shouldn’t affect the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Education, or other federal entities that work with Indian Country. Kingman has a lot of experience in Washington. She was there during the Clinton impeachment and where she worked as the director of public affairs for the National Indian Gaming Association and the director of the Seminar Institute. She had been executive director of the National Congress of American Indians before that. Kingman said Clinton’s impeachment didn’t stop the federal government from doing business.. “That was another battle we weren’t part of,” she said. “It didn’t really affect us.”
'A bad thing for our country' President Trump calls Democrats impeachment push 'unpatriotic' https://t.co/GZB4cpqlbT— Indian Country Today (@IndianCountry) December 3, 2019
Washines said impeachment does surface, as it did during the most recent meeting of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. But such talk he said is limited because it draws attention away from issues that impact people every day such as health care or public safety. “We have lawmakers that are focusing on the impeachment process when they could work on local issues back at home,” Washines said. “All the attention is getting sucked into the vacuum with the impeachment and it’s hard to get things done.” One of the points that tribal leaders see is how Speaker Nancy Pelosi cites the impeachment duty as a Constitutional requirement. Yet “they should read further down and look at article 3 section 6 where treaties are the ‘supreme law of the land,’” Washines said. “And follow through on that.”
I’ve given up all hope in Senate Republicans voting to impeach. Despite having lost hope in the outcome of the impeachment process, William Rivers-Pitt still holds an iron-clad belief that these hearings are necessary. https://t.co/okxZiXiJsq via @IndianCountry #ICTOpinion— Indian Country Today (@IndianCountry) November 26, 2019
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the Washington editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared on Indian Country Today on December 4, 2019.