National GOP repudiates resolution
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JULY 19, 2000

On Monday, the Republican National Committee repudiated a Washington state resolution which called for an end to "non-republican" tribal governments.

"We are writing to assure you we reject this resolution and everything it stands for," writes RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson in a letter addressed to tribal leaders. "The elimination of tribal governments is not an option."

The letter was co-signed by Senators John McCain of Arizona and Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. McCain in the past has issued statements in support of tribal sovereignty as has Nighthorse Campbell, the only Native American senator.

Both are also members of the influential Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Nighthorse Campbell is the chair.

The GOP letter is the first response from the national Republican party and comes after other Republican leaders have spoken against the resolution. On Monday, the Washington state party issued an apology for the resolution and offered up another in support of self-determination for tribal governments.

But self-determination can only go so far, particularly when it involves non-Indians, at least according to Washington state party chairman Don Benton.

In editorial published yesterday in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Benton attempted to clarify the original resolution. In addition to blaming "leftist reporters" for misrepresenting the resolution, Benton suggested John Fleming, the resolution's primary author, has been the victim of discrimination.

"Our Founding Fathers wrote, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.' Why then are they not self-evident on tribal reservations?" asks Benton.

Fleming is a non-Indian who resides on the Swinomish reservation in Washington. According to Benton, Fleming is being denied "certain unalienable rights" by choosing to live there.

The response of Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash), considered by many to be a foe to sovereignty, has raised the same issue. "I don't support their [tribal governments'] attempts to interfere with the lives of non-Indians," said Gorton last week.

Frank LaMere, vice chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, previously told Indianz.Com that he believes Gorton's statements raise a "red flag." He said Gorton's statements speak directly to people like Fleming.

"Senator Gorton plays a stacked deck," said LaMere. "Gorton does not need to qualify his statements about sovereignty and government-to-government relationships. One either supports them or one does not."

Related Stories:
Party chairman defends resolution (The Talking Circle 7/18)
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:
Senator John McCain -
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell -
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs -
Sign a petition against the resolution -
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 -