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2011’s Memorable Quotes: Good and Bad Part 2

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Every year Indian country is filled with leaders, politicians, broadcasters and talking heads provide memorable quotes for anyone listening to catch. Some ignorant, some out of touch, and some commendable. Indian Country Today Media Network has compiled a list of quotes that we will break down into three parts, Perceptions, Politics, and On The Past, the Present, the Future, that will be shared over the New Year’s weekend.


“Little Indian boys and girls cannot be what they cannot see…My dream of seeing the first Indian woman in Congress, an Indian governor and ultimately an Indian president lives on.”—Democratic Choctaw strategist Kalyn Free in January, noting the need for more Indians in the world of politics. Free’s INDN’s List, a grassroots political organization that supported Indian candidates since 2005, shuttered last December after failing to generate enough funds to carry on.

“While the court is sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ concern that the appeals will delay the administration and distribution of the settlement to so many people who have waited so long for justice, that does not translate into a willingness by this court to quietly overlook the misleading case citations and unsupported legal argument throughout the plaintiffs’ motions and reply brief… the plaintiffs’ motion and reply brief go beyond fair advocacy and border on misrepresentation.”—D.C. federal judge Thomas Hogan admonishing Cobell lawyers in June for attempting to squash an appeal of the Cobell settlement through deceptive practices. The lawyers had argued that appealer Kimberly Craven needed to post an $8.3 million bond to be granted an appeal, saying that such bonds are common in the D.C. Circuit. The judge said the only cost for which Craven was responsible is photocopying, and he estimated the cost to be $200 for that purpose.

“You’ve got to hold it in the face of people and say, this is about real people—it’s about children, it’s about elders—and you’ve made promises, and you don’t have a choice. You’ve got to keep those promises.”—Retired Sen. Byron Dorgan in speaking on the greatest lesson in getting Indian policy enacted.

“What Senator Paul is proposing would mean the end of the policy of self-determination and self-governance, among other things.”—Eric Eberhard, a law professor with the Center for Indian Law and Policy at Seattle University School of Law, talking about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and his want for cuts to the federal budget that would stomp all over federal trust responsibility and treaty obligations to Indians.

“We all have elements of the shadow. We in this beautiful city of Washington are to some degree restless pursuers of material goods, all in danger of selling our souls for money, for disconnected sex, for vacuous careerism.”—Advocate, lobbyist and whistle-blower Tom Rodgers on the sentencing of people involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal.

“Feinstein and her like seem to believe that the further we are in time from atrocities, the less atrocious they become.”—ICTMN Op-Ed Editor Ray Cook on politicians whose actions undermine Indian sovereignty.

“You have to be relentless. You can’t ask and hope. You’ve got to be relentless in pushing the things that you know need to be done.”—Retired Sen. Byron Dorgan, sharing in an interview published with ICTMN in January his thoughts on the best way to accomplish strong Indian policy in Washington.

“She doesn’t know bologna from sausage. She’s after it because it sounds good.”—Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, commenting in a February interview with ICTMN on Sen. Claire McCaskill’s, D-Missouri, attempt to crack down on the federal exemption on noncompetitive bids for Alaska Native Corporations.

“You have an administration that understands the challenges that you face and, most importantly, you’ve got a president who’s got your back.”—President Barack Obama telling tribal leaders in December that he supports them.

“The various state laws being passed or proposed would quite literally prevent any state court judge from ever considering the laws of sovereign Indian nations, including tribal common law. Anti-Sharia laws also fly in the face of the United States’s recent adoption of the [U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], especially insofar as such laws could disallow state courts from ever considering the declaration and its import domestically.”—Attorney Gabe Galanda on movement to pass anti-Shariah laws in states.

“This Sharia law business is crap! It’s just crazy and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies!”—New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responding to criticism from conservatives for appointing a Muslim to the state Superior Court.
“In America, we’re supposed to go according to the rule of law and yet when you take these issues to court, a court makes a decision, and it’s overturned by another court, and it’s the same set of laws by a group of people who went to the same law schools yet they come to different conclusions and they contradict one another and overturn one another’s cases and you begin to realize some of these cases are not based on the rule of law; they’ve become political and you end up with a dangerous precedent.”—Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim on the need to challenge Congress’s assertion of plenary power over indigenous nations.