Final solution for Connecticut tribes violates international law

American Indians serve in America’s armed forces at a ratio 20 times their representative percentage in the U.S. population. They have fought in two world wars and in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq against regimes that promoted the annihilation of the Jewish people. They have shed blood, been blinded, crippled, maimed and killed to preserve the Jewish state of Israel. Back in America public officials, some Jewish, expend immense energy and immense amounts of public funds to annihilate the very Indian tribes from which these young men and women come.

Lest someone scream that I am “anti-Semite,” I am not, and never have been. I am anti-genocide, whether it is done by gassing, bullets, bombs, machetes or by political fiat.

Indian blood was shed, including that of two of my uncles, in World War II to rid the world of Adolph Hitler and his murderous regime. Indian blood and sacrifice made it possible for the world to convene the Geneva Conventions Against Genocide after World War II. The conventions recognize (as does U.S. statutory law) several acts, not just murder, which constitute genocidal acts. The conventions recognize that to single out a recognizable distinct ethic, racial, religious or national group for treatment designed to facilitate their eventual disappearance is, in fact, a genocidal act. For the state of Connecticut and its elected public officials, including its U.S. congressional delegation, to accede to the expenditure of public funds and man-hours paid for by public funds to advocate a federal policy that facilitates the eventual disappearance of its Indian nations expends tax dollars for an “illegal” purpose, a purpose that violates international laws and treaties as well as the federal statutes designed to enforce them.

Connecticut’s elected officials have gone far beyond hypocrisy and have ventured into waters that no civilized society should countenance. They want several Indian tribes in the state declared “extinct” even though these tribes have been recognized by the colonial and state governments right up to the day that the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs recognized them as Indian tribes under federal law. Now we come to find out that the state, in urging this policy of extinction on the federal government, used its political influence behind closed doors in the Department of Interior and the White House while the tribes honored the federally imposed ban on ex parte contact.

History repeats itself. The Indians honor the law, the state does not; the state wins, and two Connecticut Indian tribes are wiped off the books. What a civics lesson for our children and grandchildren. It’s too bad they can’t blame this one on Jack Abramoff, because the state obviously used his playbook or at least that of the “K Street Project.” What irony – Connecticut public officials of the Democratic Party seeking, and paying for with public funds, the influence of Republican operatives to prove that two of its Indian tribes don’t exist and don’t warrant federal recognition. Maybe Rep. Henry Waxman and his committee should look into this matter when the new Congress meets. I’ll bet you dollars to frybread that they don’t.

We now apparently have (thanks to Connecticut) a federal policy that allows state governments and their local units of government to expend huge public resources to get rid of Indian tribes by advocating a federal policy of “de-recognition” of tribes that have been recognized for centuries; a policy that allows the states to prove, in essence, that they had successfully wiped out their Indian nations.

To quote the words of a great scholar of federal Indian law, Felix Cohen, in the introduction of his “Handbook of Federal Indian Law”: “What made this work possible, in the final analysis, is a set of beliefs that form the intellectual equipment of a generation; a belief that our treatment of the Indian in the past is not something of which a democracy can be proud, a belief that the protection of minority rights and the substitution of reason and agreement for force and dictation represent a contribution to civilization, a belief that confusion and ignorance in fields of law are allies of despotism, a belief that it is the duty of government to aid oppressed people in the understanding and appreciation of their legal rights, a belief that understanding of the law, in Indian fields as elsewhere, requires more than textual exegesis, requires appreciation of history and understanding of economic, political, social and moral problems.”

It is apparent that Connecticut, its elected officials, including a Jewish senator who would send our Indian men and women to war to defeat yet another tyrant who wants to wipe the Jewish people from the Earth, believes it is morally and politically appropriate to wipe Indian nations from the face of the Earth. Whether it is done by the pen or the sword, the net effect is the eventual disappearance of the Indian nations effectuated by policies like those of the state of Connecticut. This cannot and should not be acceptable behavior to the rest of the Jewish people.

Cohen, as indicated by the above quote, was extremely concerned that the “rule of law” established over Indian Affairs in the course of two and a half centuries would be cast aside in favor of policies that would expedite the destruction of American Indians. He worried that the willingness to cast aside the “rule of law” when it came to American Indians did not bode well for all Americans. The Bush administration’s Interior Department and the state of Connecticut have done just that – not out of principle, but rather, out of political expediency. The pen is mightier than the sword. Indian nations are wiped out with but a stroke by the federal hand urged on by the hand of Connecticut.

Harold Monteau is an American Indian attorney and a founding partner in the nationwide firm of Monteau and Peebles, which is engaged in the practice of federal Indian law and policy. Visit www.ndnlaw.com.