Gabe Galanda: Disenrollments aren't an exercise in sovereignty

Participants in #stopstribalgenocide protest at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Riverside, California. Photo from Original Pechanga / Twitter

Attorney Gabe Galanda criticizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs for enabling the disenrollment epidemic:
As the tribal disenrollment epidemic only worsens, our trustee—the United States and its Department of Interior—continue to turn a deaf ear to desperate pleas for help from Indians who are facing disenrollment or have already been terminated.

Interior takes the position that it “does not get involved in individual tribal matters [of disenrollment] unless the agency’s participation is included in the tribal constitution.” That position results from a decision made by a few BIA career folks not even 10 years ago; an unwritten decision that was made without any agency rulemaking or tribal consultation whatsoever.

A few folks at BIA headquarters simply decided from behind closed doors that the agency should no longer get involved in disenrollment controversies. And the rest is modern history.

Even worse, Indian Country has accepted BIA officials’ self-serving position—indeed, nobody wants to be in the middle of an Indian-on-Indian disenrollment fight—as our own position. To be clear, disenrollment is not an exercise of tribal sovereignty or self-determination. Disenrollment is instead an exercise of federal removal, assimilation and termination policies, which tribes are now inflicting upon themselves.

Get the Story:
Gabe Galanda: Disenrollment IS a Federal Action (Indian Country Today 3/10)

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