Sunday, August 2, 2015

Disappearing Indians, Part II: The Hypocrisy of Race In Deciding Who’s Enrolled

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez cut off the only federal court remedy for Indians deprived of citizenship in their tribal nations, the Indian Civil Rights Act. Without recourse to ICRA, individual Indians are at the mercy of whatever faction controls tribal government. The power to disappear Indians holds the potential to do great harm. The Cherokee Nation, of which this writer is a citizen, is demonstrating that potential in its treatment of tribal citizens who trace descent from Cherokee slaves.

RELATED: Disappearing Indians: Who Decides Who’s In and Who’s Out?

After Santa Clara, disenrollment became a robust and unreviewable tool to settle political scores or to give expression to racism or to simply acquire a greater share of limited tribal resources. Expelling people from tribal relations based on race is exactly like getting involved in slavery as practiced by the European colonists, excepting that the harm is likely to be spread beyond the Cherokee Nation. The decision to get rid of black citizens, like the peculiar institution of slavery itself, is rife with unintended consequences and stinking with hypocrisy


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