Native Americans throughout the West say they're disgusted with
Republicans in Washington state: Delegates at the state GOP
convention this summer passed a resolution to abolish tribal
John Fleming won his party's support
when he complained that as a non-Indian living on the Swinomish
reservation in northwestern Washington, he can't vote in tribal
Fleming's resolution says the
"executive and legislative branches of the federal government
(should) immediately take whatever steps necessary to terminate all
such nonrepublican forms of government on Indian reservations."
Passed unanimously in the last 90 minutes of the
state convention, the resolution is not part of the party platform
and cannot force any action to shut down tribal governments. But
some Native Americans say it represents a racist
"This still shows that people will do
anything they can to destroy our sovereignty," says Brian
Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Tribe. Cladoosby says that the
tribes' right to determine reservation laws has been affirmed by
the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It's not hard to figure
out what would happen if nontribal members were allowed to vote,"
Cladoosby says, explaining that only 1,000 of 3,000 people on the
reservation are tribal members.
After a flurry of
criticism in the media, the GOP state board adopted a second
resolution that reaffirms their "support for Native American
"We believe in tribal
sovereignty," says Kelly Hinton, the executive director of the
Washington State Republican Party. "But (Fleming's) concerns are
not going to go away. (The fact that he can't vote) tends to fly in
the face of everything our nation is supposed to stand for."
Cladoosby says this second resolution does only
"a little to repair the damage."