years late in coming, but at long last the Indian
Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) is finally getting
its first-ever review, and hopefully serious reform.
IRA (48 stat. 984) forms the backbone of federal
Indian policy across the country and has been
extended, expanded, and abused far beyond the
original intent of Congress.
In order to understand IRA and its
major impacts on America, let me share an analogy.
Imagine an American household with a single mom and
a couple of sons, Johnny and Jimmy. One day Mom
calls the family together to make an announcement.
“Johnny, you were here first; Jimmy you were here
second. Therefore, Johnny, you are more valuable and
important than your brother. And Jimmy, you have
intruded upon Johnny’s room, his life and his world,
so a big chunk of everything you earn from now on
and forever will be given to me, Mom, and I will
redirect your earnings to Johnny. You really don’t
belong here, Jimmy, because you were here second.”
This is exactly what has been
happening in our country for 83 years. Since the
Tribes (Johnny) tell the government (Mom) that they
were here first, the non-tribal inhabitants (Jimmy)
have become second-class citizens.
mantra foisted upon Americans for decades is, “We
were here first; you stole our land.” Neither is
true. But even if it were true, the response as of
1789 should have been, “So what?” That was the way
of the world in the 1600s under the Doctrine of
Discovery. Life changed on this continent in
One could hardly call the poor souls
arriving on the Mayflower and
other ships to establish a new life on this
continent, conquerors. They had fled religious
oppression under a tyrannical king, and were seeking
liberty, religious and individual freedom. These
were the seeds that became the Great American
Experiment. But for that “transgression,”
apparently, Americans are to be forever damned.
In my analogy, Mom is our Mother
Country. Imagine that Mom’s folks come to visit
their grandsons and discover the new household
rules. Mom’s folks, representing our Founders, would
be astonished. The seeds planted in the early 1600s
by arrivals from Europe gave birth to the Framers of
our Constitution and our republican form of
government. Regardless of historical decisions, some
right, some wrong, the reality is that the United
States of America, as of September 1789, is our
government, inclusive of the now 50 separate and
sovereign states. Revisionist history has been
common practice for far too long, but the actual
reversal of history occurring today is the
slumbering thunder creeping across this country.
There is no tribal sovereignty
recognized in the U.S. Constitution, but such
sovereignty (just like Jimmy paying perpetual debt
to Johnny) has acquired a power beyond the
Constitution’s declared sovereign authority of
individual citizens and states. States such as
Washington, Montana, Idaho, and some Midwestern
states have continually relinquished their state
authority in deference to all tribal whims. Many
states have created de facto “trust” relationships
with tribes where none existed; only the federal
government has a court ordered (but not
constitutional) “trust” relationship with their
“dependent wards — Indian tribes.”
Johnny’s governments (tribes) may
directly finance political parties, incumbents, or
candidate election officials. Jimmy’s government may
not. Johnny’s businesses are all tax-exempt and
growing enormously. Jimmy’s businesses are taxed to
the max. Johnny’s government members can hold
elected office anywhere across the country, passing
land use and taxation laws upon Jimmy that do not
apply to Johnny. Johnny has priority over most of
the river and water systems throughout the Western
states because Johnny was here first, and Jimmy’s
needs don’t matter — he shouldn’t exist.
There is a wondrous Statue of Liberty in New York
harbor that welcomes all to come, as the early
Jamestown settlers, legally to the United States. We
are a country forged and thriving by “intruders”
from all over the world. Our republican form of
government does not classify those who were here
first as superior, nor does it distinguish a
priority between the person naturalized yesterday as
a full American citizen and the child born here five
minutes ago. But federal Indian policy requires
perpetual debt and shame for all who came second.
And now we take a deeper look at the
Indian Reorganization Act and its impact on the
lives of American citizens. In 2009, the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled in Carcieri
v Salazar that IRA was
intended to reorganize only those tribes on existing
reservations and “now under federal jurisdiction” in
June 1934. There were only some 65-70 actual Indian
reservations in the United States in 1934.
Therefore, the IRA was to reorganize only those
65-70 tribes, and no more. The Carcieri ruling
was a political earthquake.
The Department of Interior and Bureau
of Indian Affairs have not just reorganized
reservations in existence in 1934; they have
federally recognized a current total of 567 tribal
governments, each acquiring and expanding their
reservations, each receiving tax exemptions, and
each receiving money from Jimmy (“second-class”
The response to Carcieri under
the Obama administration was to utterly ignore it,
along with other Supreme Court rulings where the
High Court rolled back tribal governing authority,
replacing state sovereign authority.
The good news is that on June 22,
2017, the Department of Interior published a “Notice
of Regulatory Reform” with an open public comment
period on the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and
four other major federal statutes. The Notice reads:
“This document also provides an overview of
Interior’s approach for implementing the regulatory
reform initiative to alleviate unnecessary burdens
placed on the American people.”
No doubt Johnny’s 567 tribal
governments and the entire Indian industry will be
weighing in with their comments to legitimize and
further expand decades of IRA unauthorized
This is our very first opportunity to
truly confront the erroneous and detrimental
policies that one ethnicity that was here “first” is
superior to all others in this country because all
other ethnicities are intruders on this continent,
and that communalism, socialism, and tribalism is
preferable to individual liberty.
It is imperative that states,
counties, towns, and Jimmy — who lives within an
Indian reservation — describe their “burden” at this
time. If Jimmy stays silent, Jimmy’s wallet will
continue to be annually poached for the expansion of
tribalism as a governing system, replacing our
constitutional republic form of government.
Please get your comments on the
record to the Department of Interior in one of two
1) Submit comments to the federal
“eRulemaking Portal,” www.regulations.gov. In the
Search box, enter the appropriate document number
2) Mail a hard-copy of your comments
to: Office of the Executive Secretariat, ATTN: Reg.
Reform; U.S. Department of Interior; 1859 C Street
NW. MailStop 7328; Washington, DC 20240.
All other Americans are up against
567 tribal governments with 400 more waiting in the
wings for their recognition (not “reorganization”).
How long must Jimmy owe his older brother who was
here “first” and who seldom says “thank you,” and
never says “enough”?
I am not a secondary American
citizen. Are you?