Steve Russell: Donald Trump will hurt Indian Country on purpose

Presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. Photo from Facebook

Make no mistake: Donald Trump in the White House will be disastrous for Indian Country. The proof? The Republican candidate's own words, argues Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation:
Indians often get spared direct attacks because we are so few. We get caught in the prop wash of brown in a no brown zone laws and voter suppression laws, but we are seldom direct targets. That would change under a President Donald J. Trump.

When George W. Bush famously remarked that “state law reigns supreme” over Indians, he had just never read the Indian Commerce Clause. His attempted recovery by stating that Indian tribes had been “given” sovereignty was an error too subtle for somebody so ignorant of Indian affairs.

When remembering those remarks, we would do well to remember that ignorance is not malice so that we can know malice when we see it.

Trump, unlike Bush, has an opinion of tribal sovereignty that was on the record long before he ran for office. He even has a coherent theory to support his self-interest in the repeal of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, even if he lacks the legal knowledge to understand that IGRA limited tribal authority rather than expanding it.

Trump understands sovereignty as a threat to his interests even if he does not fully understand where it comes from. President Trump will not hurt us accidentally. He will hurt us on purpose and he’s said so whenever asked.

Why worry? Hillary Clinton is leading in all the polls in enough states to win and Bill Clinton was not an Indian fighter. We should worry because Trump has already defied the laws of political gravity. He stands for change in a change election even if he refuses to explain the nature of the change in concrete terms.

Read More from Steve Russell:
Steve Russell: Election 2016: What If the Bridge Goes Nowhere? (Indian Country Today 8/16)

Republican Party Platform Documents:
2016: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2012: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2008: Supporting Native American Communities | 2004: Native Americans | 2000: Native Americans

Indianz.Com at the 2016 Democratic National Convention:
Indian Country again shares stage on final night of Dem convention (7/29)
Native Democrats make urgent case for Hillary Clinton as president (7/28)
Indian Country shares spotlight at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Recap: Native American Council at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Indian Country makes presence known at Democratic convention (7/26)
Native American Council meets at Democratic National Convention (07/25)

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