Party chairman defends resolution
Facebook Twitter Email
JULY 18, 2000

In an editorial published today in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Don Benton, chairman of the Washington state Republican party, appears to defend a resolution passed by the party last month.

The resolution, authored by delegate John Fleming, a non-Indian who resides on the Swinomish reservation in Washington, calls on the federal government to terminate all "non-republican" forms of tribal governments. Fleming subsequently suggested military force be used if Indian tribes disagree with the proposal.

The resolution and Fleming's comments have inspired a campaign mounted in Indian Country that quickly spread throughout the nation. Tribal leaders, the Democratic parties from California and Nebraska, as well as the national party, have all condemned the resolution, expressing their support for tribal sovereignty and tribes.

At least one prominent Republican well known in Indian Country, Senator Slade Gorton of Washington, also stated he was not in favor of the resolution. But Gorton also appears to support its major premise.

"I don't support their [tribal governments'] attempts to interfere with the lives of non-Indians," said Gorton.

Benton, in his editorial, reiterates the concerns of Fleming and Gorton. He suggests Fleming is the victim of discrimination.

"[John Fleming] finds himself being treated differently from tribal members, effectively being discriminated against. He is denied certain unalienable rights (as in, among others, certain voting rights) while being required to maintain certain responsibilities, such as paying taxes," writes Benton.

Benton also says the resolution has been misinterpreted by the media and "leftist reporters." He states the resolution does not call for an end of reservations, suppression of tribal sovereignty, or termination of tribal governments.

According to Benton, the resolution was recommended for passage by a Native American delegate, although he does not state the person's name. Various reports have stated the resolution was passed with little or no comment and Benton agrees it could have been written more clearly.

But Benton's editorial might confuse the public rather than clarify. At Benton's urging, the state party on Monday apologized for passing the resolution.

In its apology, the party said it "truly regrets any anxiety or discomfort caused by this resolution and that we, as a party, recognize and reaffirm our continuing and ongoing support for Native American sovereignty as well as their ability and right to self-govern as determined by legal treaties signed with the United States of America."

Read Benton's Editorial:
Don Benton: GOP misrepresented by media (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 7/18)

Related Stories:
The original Republican resolution (The Talking Circle 7/18)
Author advocates termination (Tribal Law 7/17)
Support for tribes pours in (The Talking Circle 7/14)
EDITORIAL: GOP 'embarrasing' (The Talking Circle 7/14)
Gorton responds to resolution (The Talking Circle 7/12)
Californians take aim at GOP (The Talking Circle 7/10)
EDITORIAL: Tribal sovereignty (The Talking Circle 7/7)
EDITORIAL: Crow leaders important to state, Republicans smelly (The Talking Circle 7/7)
Slade stiffs seniors (The Talking Circle 7/7)
Candidate challenging Gorton (The Talking Circle 7/6)
Republicans resolve against tribes (The Talking Circle 7/5)
Miccosukee: The Republican Tribe (The Talking Circle 7/3)
Candidate pokes fun at Gorton (The Talking Circle 06/14)
Gorton opposes dam breaching (The Medicine Wheel 04/18)
Native Americans Challenge Gorton (The Talking Circle 04/03)

Relevant Links:
The Native American Caucus of the California Democratic Party -
The California Democratic Party -
The Nebraska Democratic Party -
The Democratic National Committee -
The Washington State Republican Party -
The Republican National Committee -