David Wilkins: Tribal leaders can't stay silent on disenrollment

Members of the Nooksack Tribe of Washington protest disenrollment. Photo from Facebook

Professor David Wilkins urges tribes to take a more public stand on disenrollment in Indian Country:
Nearly 500 Native nations have been wise enough to avoid dismembering their communities. At the same time, their leaders have largely remained silent as some Native governments violate the civil and human rights of their people. Many of those standing by have calculated that if they call attention to this problem the U.S. government will intervene in a way that irrevocably damages sovereignty throughout Indian Country. Their concerns are justified. We all know the folly of publically condemning the sovereign actions of other Nations, as well as the disastrous results of taking our issues into the federal court system. In the end, this type of criticism and infighting only undermines the well-being or all our Nations.

Unfortunately, in the void created by this fearful silence across Indian Country, the problem only worsens and may ultimately make federal intervention inevitable. Native leaders are hoping this infection will heal itself, but without the right medicine, in time, it will spread and cause profound harm to us all by finally crippling sovereignty.

Because, without action to help forestall it, the U.S. Congress or, more realistically, the Supreme Court, will impose their radical treatments. As we all know too well, once those federal remedies are imposed, they will affect us all, not just those who are actively and cavalierly violating the civil liberties and human rights of their own citizens. It is time for those who have averted their eyes from the plight of the dismembered to show courage and act for the good of all Native nations.

Get the Story:
David Wilkins: Re-Membering Through Adoption (Indian Country Today 4/4)

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