Vincent Armenta: You can't rewrite tribes and tribal sovereignty

Vincent Armenta

Vincent Armenta, the chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, responds to a local official in California who questioned the existence of tribal governments:
Native Americans are members of the original indigenous tribes of the United States and were considered sovereign nations from their first interaction with European settlers. Sovereignty predated the formation of the United States.

Tribal governments have unique legal and political relationships with the federal government as provided by the Constitution of the United States. The relationship between federally recognized tribes and the United States is one between sovereigns — between a government and a government.

For Supervisor Adam to suggest that the “whole reservation system” should be revisited is laughable. Does he think that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has the authority to revoke the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830? This act marked the systemization of a U.S. federal government policy of forcibly removing Native populations away from European-populated areas.

Even more preposterous is Supervisor Adam’s assumption that Native American tribes liked having their land taken away from them and liked being relegated to a small plot of land. Perhaps if the Board of Supervisors could wave a magic wand and “revisit the whole reservation system,” the Chumash people could reclaim the 200-mile stretch of California coastline from Malibu to Paso Robles rather than being relegated to 99 acres in a creek bed.

Get the Story:
Vincent Armenta: You Can’t Rewrite History (The Santa Barbara Independent 2/6)

Another Opinion:
Peter Adam: Sovereignty and the Legislative Platform (The Santa Barbara Independent 2/6)

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