Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigns in New Hampshire in February 2016. Photo from Facebook

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered a big foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. But Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, notes that the GOP front-runner's foreign policy team includes an attorney who filed a lawsuit that claimed Islamic extremists were in cahoots with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes:
One of Donald Trump’s five principal foreign policy advisors was counsel in a lawsuit to prevent the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes from taking over a dam on tribal land, formerly known as Kerr Dam and now called Salish-Kootenai Dam. The “legal” theory asserted to keep the tribes from acquiring the dam is particularly pertinent to Joseph Schmitz’s foreign policy bona fides.

The claim to stop the tribes from owning the dam on their property was that the acquisition of it was part of a terrorist plot to help Turkey acquire nuclear materials.

While it is true that Turkey is among the handful of foreign nations to have direct relationships with Indian nations, those relationships have been about a Turkish invitation to Indian students in study abroad programs to choose Turkey as a destination and Turkish grants to tribes for economic development. In 2012, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) offered a development grant to tribal governments, a competition won by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation for a water project.

While it is true that most Turks are Muslims and there are some people in this country who think all Muslims are terrorists, those ideas have little currency in the fact-based community that dominates most foreign policy discussion.

It is not true that the Salish and Kootenai people have had any dealing with Turkey about hydropower, let alone nuclear materials.

It is not true that Turks are proselytizing for Islam on the Flathead Reservation. George Ochenski, writing in a Missoulian op-ed, opined about “Turkish Islam terrorists taking over the Salish-Kootenai” that “after a century of having non-Indians try to take over everything the tribe was supposed to get in the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, Turks are the least of tribal or non-tribal citizens’ worries.”

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Steve Russell: Trump’s Foreign Policy Advisor Accuses Tribes of Terrorist Plot (Indian Country Today 4/28)

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