Re: Amerind an offensive term (was: Early Amerind assimilation

Stephen W. Russell (
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 08:26:19 -0500

On 5 Aug 1996, William R. Belcher wrote:

> "Stephen W. Russell" <> wrote:
> Various stuff clipped:
> >
> >There is a quote from Justice Hugo Black that always appears in dissenting
> >opinions in Indian law cases, as a signal that the Indians are about to
> >get screwed again: "Great nations, like great men, should keep their
> >word..."
> Treaties that were made with Native American groups were (supposed to
> be) on the same level as treaties that the U.S. made with other sovereign
> nations. This policy changed after the Civil War and tribal entities
> were no longer treated as sovereign nations. This was the major reason
> they were not granted citizenship until 1924, the tribal entities were
> considered sovereign nations and wards of the state (federal) government.
> I'm not saying that this is right, but I think that a more recent danger
> is the fact that States are trying to either renegotiate treaty rights -
> something that they certainly do not have the rights to do. About ten
> years ago, Washington State citizens voted to repeal treaty rights
> granted by the Federal government in the 1850s. Even though the measure
> succeeded, these dangerous efforts failed as they U.S. Feds wouldn't
> allow it. Currently, the Republication party is trying to give the States
> more and more power, perhaps to deal with these kinds of issues.
The "domestic, dependant nations" characterization of Indian tribes comes
from the Cherokee Removal Cases, courtesy of John Marshall. Like so much
of Marshall's work, formed of whole cloth. The upside of this status was
the guardian-ward or trustee-beneficiary relationship that was thought to
exist between the tribes and the feds. That means, for example, that all
ambiguities in treaties are to be decided in favor of Indian interests.

Ignoring for a moment the evolution of these concepts vis a vis the feds,
the states have never been happy about having these territories and
populations outside their control. The latest truely bizarre chapter is
the Supremes' decision in the Seminole case last year, wherein they held
(wrongly, in my opinion) that Congress cannot grant an Indian nation the
right to sue a state without the state's permission. I will spare you
the reductio ad absurdum of that holding.

We wait to see what will happen. The suit was about the Indian Gaming
Regulatory Act which, contrary to popular belief, is not a granting of
special favors to Indian tribes but a LIMITATION on their sovereignty.
Indians read the Seminole case as removing the limitations. States read
it as subjecting the reservations to state authority. We shall see, but
nothing the current Supremes have done has yet been good news for Indians.

Steve Russell>
> >