Gabe Galanda: The tide keeps turning against disenrollment

Participants in #stopstribalgenocide protest at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Riverside, California, in January 2015. Photo from Original Pechanga / Twitter

Attorney Gabe Galanda continues his look at the growing movement against disenrollment in Indian Country:
By the summer, Indian Country Today Media Network columnist Steve Russell, Cherokee, a trial court judge in Texas and criminal justice professor, joined the chorus when he published a four-part series about disenrollment styled, “Disappearing Indians.”

Judge Russell dispelled several mistruths that operate to catalyze disenrollment, most notably that of Santa Clara v. Martinez (U.S. 1978), which “did not say the Pueblo was correct to practice . . . discrimination. It said sovereign immunity prevented Julia Martinez from doing anything about it in court.” Nor did Santa Clara say anything whatsoever about disenrollment. Still, “[a]fter Santa Clara, disenrollment became a robust and unreviewable tool to settle political scores or to give expression to racism or to simply acquire a greater share of limited tribal resources.” Indeed, Santa Clara will go down as the worst federal Indian civil rights case, and one of the worst indigenous human rights cases, ever decided.

In reaction to Judge Russell’s series, Turtle Talk took a poll in August regarding the legacy and aftermath of Santa Clara, which Professor Matthew Fletcher described as “patently one of the two or three most important and perhaps controversial Supreme Court decisions affecting Indian nations and Indian people.”

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The Anti-Disenrollment Chorus Sings: Part 2 (Indian Country Today 11/16)

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