Harjo: Pseudo-Indians should pay for identify theft

"The pseudo-Indians should not be held harmless. They should be made to pay. There ought to be a law, you say? I couldn't agree more.

During the hearings in the 1980s on amendments to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, I testified on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians that Congress should establish a new law that would authorize a tribe to bring a federal action against those who profit from false claims that they are people of that tribe.

And what about people who don't profit from their false Indian identities? This is not the norm. In the vast majority of these cases, the non-Indians are pretending to be Indians for profit of some kind - for tenure, a job, a book contract, a record deal, a movie role. Look into the eyes of a pseudo-Indian and you see gold.

A new cause of action for Native nations should be more than a cease and desist order. Budding pseudo-Indians should know that there are potential consequences for identity theft."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Fakers and phonies and frauds, egad: There ought to be a law (Indian Country Today 2/10)

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