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.
- 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!