A national writer named Carl Horowitz had a recent article wanting to terminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and threw in his opinions about other topics related to Indian people. It wasn’t good reading. Anti-Indian material coming from the poison pen of people like Horowitz is nothing new. In addition hearing this kind of talk is an affront to treaty rights, and is so contrary to established settled law. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me to hear some of this crazy talk resurrected again, but I guess he has an audience somewhere or he likes to hear himself rant.
He said the bureau budget of $2.7 billion needs some serious down-sizing and the agency combines “patronage and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process.”
Horowitz gives us a history lesson, like we really needed it: there are 564 federally-recognized Indian (including Alaskan) tribes in this land of ours, representing nearly two million persons. Crucially, a tribe operates under a federal grant of sovereign status. Taken as a whole, Indian tribes are a loose confederacy of mini-nations, each with its own elected tribal government overseeing courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure development, and on due occasion, casinos.
He goes on to say how tribal leaders enjoy enormous power and listed a whole bunch of corrupt examples. He makes it sound like these things happen only with Indians, but Horowitz needs to get real and open up the daily paper and see what his neighbors have done lately. He also criticized the Indian Health Service for losing $15.8 million of medical equipment during a three year span and continues to lose property. He needs to go back to the Jack Anderson archives and read about all the military and non-military financial abuses over the years. Those financial abuses have never been corrected. The whole system needs to be looked at, but D.C. politicians won’t allow that because they need to protect the trough.
Then he turned his focus to class-action lawsuits (“far bigger piles of loot, however, can be made legally), and how wrong it was for American Indian farmers and ranchers to win discrimination suits and getting some money in the process. Another case he cited was the Cobell decision and called it a shake-down. Discrimination and cheating Indians out of their rightful royalties is evidently fine by this guy. Oh, also did he forget this is the most litigious society in a long time and maybe it is the only way to get a wrong corrected.
Horowitz then attacked the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and said they created a monopoly for tribes and that there were immune from state regulation and federal taxation. Of course, he didn’t read the law very carefully, since most tribe were required to enter a tribal-state compact and Indian casinos are the most regulated industry in America, but that is conveniently left out. And the IRS gets their due no matter what color skin you have.
Horowitz doesn’t’ stop there, he said “the federal government can’t bottle up their sense of moral entitlement. But it doesn’t have to subsidize it either.” His answer: “Ending the network of incestuous relationships and accompanying corruption requires that Congress do the unthinkable: Abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and all other federal agencies that serve Native American interests. These agencies have outlived whatever usefulness they had. Lawmakers also ought to end the practice of formal tribal recognition" which to him is costly and hurts national identity. Horowitz said "in the late 1940s, Congress set up a commission and one of its recommendations was that the assimilation of Indians into the mainstream of American society must be a top priority. Dismantling the Indian bureaucracy would be a major step in that direction.”
Indians have had to put up with this kind of termination rubbish for years. The Horowitz tirade is a good example of why tribes need to get out and tell their own stories and what they’ve done with the casino cash. It isn't by accident that the neighborhood got fixed up, jobs were created and lives were improved because of the American Indian bailout –The National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It is important to tell people or educate them on the losses both in land and people that Indians have suffered -remind them of the treaties Indians signed that gave land to this country to make it great.
It is also important for the people in Indian tribes to come to the realization that it does little good to fight among themselves, when there is a bigger enemy over the horizon.