Rounds Makes Show of Respect for Indians with Bill to Repeal Obsolete Laws

Suppose you were a Republican Senator who wanted to make it look as if you respected American Indians Suppose you wanted to push a bill to express your concern for the tribes, but you didn’t want to spend any money or make any real difference in the quality of life on reservations or in the practical interactions of Indians with the federal government. In other words, all you want is a video op on the Senate floor.

If you were U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, you’d introduce the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act.

Senator Rounds wants to repeal twelve statutes from our imperialist past. Here’s each statute title and its passage date:

  • 25 U.S.C. 72 Abrogation of treaties (1862)
  • 25 U.S.C. 127 Moneys of annuities of hostile Indians (1867, amended 1928)
  • 25 U.S.C. 128 Appropriations not paid to Indians at war with United States (1875)
  • 25 U.S.C. 129 Moneys due Indians holding captives other than Indians with held (1875)
  • 25 U.S.C. 130 Withholding of moneys of goods on account of intoxicating liquors (1847)
  • 25 U.S.C. 137 Supplies distributed to able-bodied males on condition (1875)
  • 25 U.S.C. 138 Goods withheld from chiefs violating treaty stipulations (1869)
  • 25 U.S.C. 273 Detail of Army officer (1879)
  • 25 U.S.C. 276 Vacant military posts or barracks for schools; detail of Army officers (1882)
  • 25 U.S.C. 283 Regulations for withholding rations for nonattendance at schools (1893)
  • 25 U.S.C. 285 Withholding annuities from Osage Indians for nonattendance at schools (1913)
  • 25 U.S.C. 302 Indian Reform School; rules and regulations; consent of parents to placing youth in reform school (1906)

I invite my Indian readers to correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that none of these statutes have been enforced or had a practical impact on tribal life at any point in Mike Rounds’s lifetime.

I note Rounds’s staff couldn’t even come up with a complete list of obsolete, “noxious” Indian laws to erase. Consider 25 U.S.C. 185, “Protection of Indians desiring civilized life,” from 1862:

Whenever any Indian, being a member of any band or tribe with whom the Government has or shall have entered into treaty stipulations, being desirous to adopt the habits of civilized life, has had a portion of the lands belonging to his tribe allotted to him in severalty, in pursuance of such treaty stipulations, the agent and superintendent of such tribe shall take such measures, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary to protect such Indian in the quiet enjoyment of the lands so allotted to him.

“Civilized”—that’s code for, “Act like the white man.” How’d Team Rounds miss that one?

Or what about 25 U.S.C. Sections 181 through 184, dealing with marriage between white men and Indian women? These provisions from 1888 and 1897 spell out rules on property and children of such mixed marriages, but they completely ignore the possible unions of white women and Indian men. Racist and sexist, wouldn’t you say, Senator Rounds?

Or what about 25 U.S.C. 274, “Employment of Indian girls and boys as assistants,” from 1897:

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs shall employ Indian girls as assistant matrons and Indian boys as farmers and industrial teachers in all Indian schools when it is practicable to do so.

Indian boys do farming and practical trades, while girls play housewife and nurse? How very 1897.

Senator Rounds can’t even whitewash outdated federal law effectively, let alone come up with real initiatives (like, oh, say, fully funding Indian Health Service) to make American Indian lives better. Thanks for the medicine show, Mike!


39 Responses to Rounds Makes Show of Respect for Indians with Bill to Repeal Obsolete Laws

  1. Paul Seamans

    I would think that a simple statement by Mike Rounds that the Ft. Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 are still on the books would have garnered him more respect from his native constituents than his RESPECT bill.

  2. Bill Dithmer

    Hes damned if he does, and damned if he dont.

    The Blindman

  3. Is it better to leave those laws on the books?


    important words, governor, er, I mean senator (temporarily, until your accountability for massive EB5 and MCEC fraud occurs) rounds.

    political correctness, no, reverse political correctness, comes to mind. I visualize rounds sitting around his office with white staffers talking about the recent attempt of changing the OFFENSIVE, NOXIOUS name of Harney peak and the severe reactions from white SD residents, and the equally severe reactions of the legislature and governor with HB 1060.

    “RIGHTFULLY SENSITIVE”, “SENSE OF JUSTICE”, “WASHINGTON COULD USE SOME OF SD’S ‘WORK[ING] TOGETHER”??? this guy is so arrogant and patronizing that he doesn’t even recognize it.

    this could be the result of good work by SD Tribal Relations Office led by Steve Emory. or cory’s good work highlighting racism at the hockey incident and the KI HI LI high school pageant.

    just like all the noise coming out of jackley’s office lately. spin-time

    how about rounds, you make a statement supporting the name-change proposals currently before USBGN of BLACK ELK PEAK and THUNDER PEAK? do what cory suggests. do something real. take a chance. make a difference.

  5. Bill Dithmer

    Probably because Senator Rounds, like myself and 80% of his constituents dosent support any of the name changes.

    The Blindman

  6. Paul Seamans

    Bill Dithmer, your 80% estimate sounds about right. That leaves the other 20% divided between 10% Native and 10% non-native who see the justice of removing “Woman Killer” Harney’s name from the peak.

  7. I’d like to know why? You have strong ties to the rez community. you see kids die. you understand self esteem. call up Basil Brave Heart. call up Myron Pourier. call up Paul Stover Soderman, Harney’s 7th generation relative. call up Phil Little Thunder. Call up Karen Little Thunder. Just ordinary people, each who have made tremendous positive changes in their communities. Walk with them from Blue Water battle ground to Fort Laramie April 29.

    Or take the word of Phil Lampert, Custer County Commissioner Chair and former Chief Concessionaire, Custer State Park. Tell the Indians as he did that they “should learn the lesson of the ‘battle’ ” [massacre].

    I agree with you about jobs. The Indians I know work harder than anyone I know, because they are Indians. They were raised that way. They have always had to.

    Show SD Indians South Dakota government cares about their lives. Make a tiny, simple name change acknowledging a wrong. The peak happens to be the center of their religious, cultural beliefs. That is where self esteem is rooted.

    Why do you think Arvol Looking Horse is trying to change the name of Devil’s Tower? Wyoming has apparently passed legislation that will prevent that name from EVER being changed. I find it highly unlikely Indians will care what residents call their town in Custer. But these are sacred prominent markers, all that is left of their stolen land. Stolen is not a casual word here. That is your history. That is why you lived on or near the rez.

    Stop acting like a putz, Bill. We know you aren’t.

  8. Ror, I’m fine with scrubbing the law books of obsolete measures. But that Rounds prioritizes this cosmetic measure over substantive reforms and assistance speaks volumes about his policy priorities.

  9. Bill Dithmer

    Leslie, I dont like it when a highways name is changed to that of a sports star, and I dont like it when two companies merge and change the name.

    Ive used the names of those places that you speak of for 60 years, and I dont see or feel a need to change. Yes its that simple.

    Of course this is my opinion, if you can show that a clear and wide majority want these changes then I would have to support the new names, but thats not happening is it?

    The Blindman

  10. 170,000 dems have gone on record for the change. likely the 230,000 repubs do not support it. some are described in the AAU post. Half the 108,000 independents, given their apparent indecisiveness, likely support it. so he’s got 284,000 constituents. probably about right. 227,000 is about 80%.

    but not after EB5 and MCEC. the “blinders” are being lifted:)

  11. Does Rounds have any intern staff from Pine Ridge or Rosebud?

    See this video interview with ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer and a Pine Ridge, SD teenager who wants to be a U.S. President.

  12. Bill Dithmer

    But on has nothing to do with the other.

    The Blindman

  13. custer city and highways named for sports stars are about the same thing. who cares? but they don’t rise to the level of import Harney or Devil’s Tower rise to. and I can not speak for what Indians want. Obviously they just got rid of “Shannon” County.

    I believe you may have said here recently, that no one but them gives a “r-t’s a–” about it. words to that effect. it could have been another republican commenter. I will support their proposals because they are plainly “the right thing to do” in context. Changing the name “Harney” does not hurt ANY conceivable concern.

    80% of rounds constituents in a state of 860,000 is 227,000 people. about a fifth.

    EB5 and MCEC fraud scandals now developing, as SDGOP cover-ups (like the 3 buried AAU videos) are being peeled away, are directly related to Rounds credibility and values, which hardly support the 580,000 balance of the low and middle class residents. The cover-ups are directly related to why Rounds and Jackley are now trying to improve their state-wide images. soiled merchandise to a lot of us.

    how many people in SD voted in Obama’s last election?

  14. sorry, 633,000 residents are about the number left over from “80% of rounds constituents”.

  15. There is a way to take care of this.

    Honor the 1868 Ft. Laramie treaty, to the letter. Including removing the faces of four White guys, The Oaha Dam, and I-90 west of Missouri. Move all the people who are not Native American, off the land. There is a few minor issues however they can be easily resolved

    There, problem solved.

  16. bearcreekbat

    Rounds recently spit out criticism against IHS in the RC Journal blaming IHS for not accomplishing its goal of excellent care for natives. The problem, according to Rounds, is not that IHS is underfunded, but caused by some other reason supported by strange anecdotes, such as a woman giving birth in an IHS bathroom without a bathroom attendant to assist with the birth.

    The guy seems to be all about BS “dog whistle” press releases for newspapers’ opinion pages in an effort to cover his lack of any meaningful ideas – sort of following in Thune’s footsteps.

  17. Bill Dithmer

    BCB, you are absolutely right.

    The Blindman

  18. Roger Cornelius

    How will Rounds legislation change or help the gross mismanagement of services from Washington, D.C. to the Aberdeen Area Health Service to the reservation hospitals.
    How does Rounds plan to retain doctors on the reservation, literally every time you go to one of the clinics there is a new and different doctor. Perhaps Rounds can provide us with the poor retention rates.
    The ERs on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations are facing closure, how does Rounds plan to keep them open.
    We are all aware of the wide and deepening problem with teen suicide among our young ones and yet the Behavioral Health programs have been without providers for months on end, and when they do get a provider they don’t stay very long.
    To add somewhat of a personal experience, my niece hurt her back recently and wen to IHS on a Sunday afternoon, from the time she arrived at the hospital to when she was actually seen, it was a full eight hours of waiting in pain and agony for the doctor to see her.
    While the treaties are an important part of this discussion the more pressing need is the practical application of providing to the immediate health needs of Native American today.
    If Mike Rounds wants to provide more than lip service to the needs of my people he would start by getting rid of the high levels of bureaucracy in Washington and completing getting rid of the money wasting Aberdeen Health Service office.

  19. Patricia Shiery

    Cory, do you by chance know if this RESPECT Act has a bill Number? I have searched but can’t find anything specifically.

  20. Great questions Roger, Maybe what he is trying to do with this nothing speech is to take the light off something else he and his right wing buddies seem to approve of. We have the money to do the full funding of the IHS as well as the VA with billions left over if we would only rein in these kinds of shenanigans with the crooks and liars in Bundy Land to include our pentagon.

  21. MC, you honor Steve Hickey with your call for restoration of the 1868 Laramie Treaty borders. Will you be educating your District 9 neighbors on this point?

    I am intrigued by the point MC and Paul make: Rounds could do more for Indians by enforcing treaty rights that Washington isn’t respecting instead of fiddling around with laws no one uses.

  22. But as Roger says, Rounds’s bill does not one thing to get doctors to the reservations, combat teen suicide, or reduce IHS wait times.

  23. I agree w/ rohr. no sense in erasing the tracks of tears. leave these old rags in USC books. I think rounds staff got an idea from reading the vitriolic comments against the Harney name change, thinking he can erase history!!

    MC, aren’t u running for office? not in Indian country, though, right?

  24. Remove the “offensive” laws while maintaining the more offensive broken systems.
    Rounds could at least be nice enough to address some actual issues. Removing decades old, unenforced laws does not provide any hope, a high demand commodity in most communities.

  25. What would you say to re-negotiation of the treaties, between the tribes, the Unites States of America, and all the states involved?

  26. Well, we do have a Harney relative available. I am sure he would be happy to speak from his heart, binding the USA, states, the military and the religions “as long as the grass shall go, the waters flow and the winds blow”:) Reparations would be significant. I have no idea what tribes would decide. They have little or no basis to trust in anything from us. You’ve seen the wall sized photograph of a million buffalo skulls stacked at a siding in Bismark, or the Open Cut and related mining impacts all over the Hills, and from essentially Sturgis all the way to Sun Dance, nearly?

  27. Judging by the acoustics in the Senate chamber while Rounds is speaking (every word he speaks echoes about three times) he’s talking to a room of empty chairs. Which is fitting, I guess, if you’re an empty suit.

  28. Yeah, Dave, empty room, empty suit, empty head. Is there such a thing as an empty conscience? Sure his is…if he even has one!

  29. Dave, Rounds did conclude his remarks by suggesting to the chair the absence of a quorum.

  30. MC, the states aren’t parties to any treaties, are they? Renegotiation between the federal government and the tribes might produce some useful results… but would it be more in tribes’ interests to simply demand enforcement of the existing treaties?

  31. barry freed

    Things are rarely as they appear. If a far right politician wishes to repeal Laws, there must be a profit for the Koch’s of the World, or some land to be condemned for waste disposal. Any number of needs have been listed in comments here, some would have great support, others would not be expensive, why repeal 19th century statutes instead of proactively improving life on the Reservations and beyond?

    The Native Community should look for the “why” in each Law, why would he choose to repeal them if there is no current application of their intent. There is likely much more to each one than the Title Line suggests.

    Can’t picture Rounds as the neighbor who volunteers to help roof your house.

  32. Lanny V Stricherz

    Your comment at 7:37 is funny, Cory. Usually if the speaker wants his words to be heard by his colleagues, he suggests an absence of a quorum before his speech not after, so that there is a quorum call.

    When I got this email from the Senator, the first think I thought of was the disrespect he showed to our Native brothers and sisters when he had the 31 highway patrol with weapons in hand at the Marty protest of the Longview Farms pig hatchery that was to be built there. The then governor took the part of the Iowa corporation against fellow South Dakotans, just like he and state government took the part of a foreign company, Trans Canada, in allowing the eminent domain of South Dakota land to build the two Keystone pipelines.

    Did anyone say, “hollow gesture”?

  33. Why not the state? Who picks up the tab with IHS fails to provide health care services? Who does the tribe turn to when the BIA drops the ball? and don’t tribe member vote in elections for the state offices? if the State is going to shoulder these expenses, the State should have a seat at the table.

  34. careful MC, and don’t fall for daugaard’s shell game. He doesn’t want ACA. “i hate that” he said. so he has raised an issue, quite complex, attempting to bring Federal IHS and treaty rights into his decision to let 30-90 people die annually in SD waiting for health care for 45-55,000 citizens.

    this is deep water you are tip-toeing into.

  35. Leslie, to be honest, there are somethings about PPACA that I like and much more I don’t. While this might part of the shell game, the BIA and IHS needs to own up to the the treaty obligation.

    If they can’t or won’t

    Then maybe we need a new treaty

  36. mike from iowa

    Rounds’s bill does not one thing to get doctors to the reservations, combat teen suicide, or reduce IHS wait times.

    But,these don’t appear to be problems to wingnuts. Not enough tax cuts for the wealthy, not enough subsidies for their rich friends are real problems.

  37. Roger Cornelius

    I have given your new treaty negotiations some thought as well as your suggestion of the state and tribes having a treaty.
    The federal government would not and should not accept any suggestion of a state/tribal treaty. Tribes are afforded a federal trust responsibility that the state would not be able to handle.
    The first thing the state would put on the table in negotiating a tribal treaty would state jurisdiction over tribal members and land. That will not stand with tribes and tribal members.
    The state and tribes do have some compacts that they have agreed to such as the gaming compact and sales tax collection distribution to name a few.
    And yes tribal members can vote in state in elections and the state may pick up some expenses for tribal members on and off the reservation. The difference is that most of those expenses are federal dollars funneled to the state (Gear Up).
    With the right to vote comes an obligation for tribal members to pay state taxes, which they do. If a Native American owns a home and property in Rapid City they pay taxes on it.
    As I pointed with the sales tax compact, Natives pay sales tax and gasoline taxes and off the reservations.

  38. MC, 1st I want to point out today Rush L. paid us a compliment saying white privilege is alive and well and wouldn’t have a leg to stand on except for the Democratic party.

    Though i’m betting he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about, as your party leader, it illustrates the point about how difficult understanding this particular issue is, the 1868 treaty in SD.

    Congress has the absolute power to honor or disavow that treaty. as a non-Indian I only point out that there may be favorable and unfavorable provisions, but probably NONE are adequately, reasonably funded, violating the true spirit of the “mutual” agreement of the parties. It is a contract I think, enforceable by either side in a court of law. IHS and BIA are certainly capable of living up to treaty obligations, but congress ultimately enables that or not. Rounds suggests dumping empty federal statutes, and dumping both EPA (which often has deep and complex relationships with sovereign Indian nations), and Department of Education which as we see here has mismanaged MCEC in administration of millions of those federal dollars under treaty provisions, and others toward Indian higher education. I just came from an afternoon at a school on the rez last month and was deeply impressed with the quality of education provided, in my view.

    at any library you can read a copy of any/all treaties/agreements, and some of the Acts of Congress, relatively easily. ask a librarian. it’ll take an hour. It is difficult to understand, both in its scope involving many separate tribes, and as it has been modified over time and by complexity as its goals have evolved. The 1868 was merely a calculated shot in the dark by the government at the time under pressure from the Fetterman defeat, the liberal supporters of the Indians, and those seeking an eye, no a village, for an eye’s revenge.

    I personally think if the parties, including states, if they wanted some agreed participation, could come to some helpful changes, but the tribes have been burned at EVERY turn and have little reason to trust you. Perhaps the vacant tribal building in Ft. Pierre could become a permanent home for such ongoing treaty negotiations you wish to commence. The feds could fly in as needed and help Pierre’s airport survive.

    Israel’s negotiation difficulties come to mind, and the 500 tribes in the USA (there are more than that), or just the number of tribes involved in the local line of treaty agreements in 1851, 1868 and 1877 after Custer’s defeat which took all valuable assets from the tribes, bring as much difficulty as the mid-east does. The tribes have been straining to enforce the treaties since the day they were written, have been to D.C. countless times, paid D.C. and other law firms millions of dollars in fees, hired lobbyists, and voterd to maintain their rights.

    if you are serious about your suggestion, buckle in for the long haul, study the subject and leave your ego at the door. the tribes have seen it all come and go from Bradly in 1983 and SCOTUS in 1980 to the innumerable acts of congress over the years that continue the trend of robbing the Indians. They are building a credible human resource of professional competency and have no problem standing up for their best interests. they are nothing like the majority of SD red necks continue to espouse.

    good luck in your race for state legislature and if you make it you will find a growing number of Indian legislators that are bright and dedicated. Kevin Killer happened to be in Brussels when the bombing occurred. They are supported by a state full of Democrats that have had their eyes opened to the unregulated graft of your party in these recent years.

    I note your campaign slogan seems to be “Under God, the People Rule”. Support the Harney name change which would honor the Indian’s belief in God. Please keep in mind all of your constituents do not necessarily believe this.

    former Republ. Rep. Rev. Hickey had some large ideas like yours. Visit with him. he seems to have good ideas at times in these regards, and their practicality. Whether Indian people would agree is a separate issue.