Thursday, July 30, 2015

Raúl Grijalva: Congress Must Rebuild Trust With Native American Tribes

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 5:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Saving Oak Flat Campground
U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva wrote an op-ed for the publication Indian Country Today Media Network, where he says Congress hasn't taken tribal sovereignty seriously, has failed to protect Native American historical treasures—as we are seeing in recent times with Oak Flat—and that, bottom line, Congress needs to regain the tribes' trust. 

He says these actions are not based on any legitimate political differences, but on an ongoing attitude that Native American history is important only when it's convenient to Congress. What's definite is that Congress could care less about the tribes' economic interests, and "Native American land is held by tribes only through the grace and favor of the federal government," he adds.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from the op-ed that was published yesterday:
When President Obama, using the time-honored Antiquities Act signed into law by Teddy Roosevelt, established three new national monuments on July 10 in Nevada, California and Texas, the protection of Native American art and artifacts was among his top priorities. Basin and Range National Monument in southeastern Nevada will protect petroglyph and prehistoric rock art dating back thousands of years. In the conservation community, not to mention the Native American community, this was an occasion to celebrate.

House Republicans, however, were not celebrating. When a reporter asked for his views on the new monuments and pointed out the rich Native American history involved, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah replied, “Ah, bull crap. That’s not an antiquity.” Earlier that same day, a release from the Chairman stated, “There is nothing that [President] Obama did today that had anything to do with an antiquity.”

This was not an isolated incident. Representative Don Young, who chairs the Committee’s panel on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, lectured representatives of the Zuni Pueblo and Navajo Nation at a July 15 hearing about accepting whatever decision Congress made on a land dispute at Fort Wingate, New Mexico. “Either you take what we’re going to give you and be happy, or you’re going to lose it,” he told them. “You better be happy with what you’re going to get.”
The op-ed is definitely fueled by the most recent "we-will-screw-you-over" action by Congress, where they reached a hush-hush deal and attached a very disturbing amendment to last year's National Defense Authorization Act, where they hand over Oak Flat to Resolution Copper—a move approved by Arizona's U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain, as well as U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar. 

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