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C O M P E T I N G S O V E R E I G N T I E S

IN NORTH AMERICA AND THE
RIGHT-WING AND ANTI-INDIAN MOVEMENT

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Preliminary Findings
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Center for World Indigenous Studies
Right-Wing Extremism & Anti-Indian Network Project

[Ed. Note: This article may be reproduced for electronic transfer and posting on computer bulletin boards in part or full, provided that no profit is made by such transfer and that full credit is given to the author, the Center For World Indigenous Studies, and The Fourth World Documentation Project]

PART II

THE ANTI-INDIAN MOVEMENT

Competition for control over Indian reservations now includes individual non-Indians seeking to force the break-up of reservation governments and lands. On-reservation non-Indians were joined by off- reservation non-Indians to achieve the break-up of Indian Nations. Off- reservation non-Indian activism began to grow as a result of three factors: Public activism by the American Indian Movement in the early 1970s, growing success by Indian governments to exercise some governmental powers over lands, resources and activities in "ceded territories," and movements by several Indian Nations to reclaim original lands and resources wrongfully taken by the United States.

What is now called the "Anti-Indian Movement" includes non-Indian activists inside reservations and non-Indian activists outside reservations. It also includes a small minority of Indians, both inside and outside reservations, who associate themselves with the values and aspirations of the non-Indian population. While the Anti-Indian Movement has an important impact in several areas of the country, the actual numbers of activists is not more than 1000 individuals. Far greater numbers of sympathetic followers, have given their names to small organizations in fifteen states. The total number of sympathetic followers is currently estimated at 5,000 to 10,000 individuals.

Activists have formed small groups on and near Indian reservations with names like, ALL CITIZENS EQUAL, TOTALLY EQUAL AMERICANS, CITIZENS RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, WHITE EARTH EQUAL RIGHTS, CONCERNED CITIZENS COUNCIL, PROPERTY OWNERS' ASSOCIATION, and INTERSTATE CONGRESS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES. These groups have been linked through individuals and interest issues with organizations formed in cities and towns. These include narrowly defined associations of individuals concerned with sport-fishing, hunting, small business, and recreation. Such groups like S/SPAWN located in Bellevue, Washington; Alaskan Constitutional Legal Defense Fund in Anchorage, Alaska; Bonduel Conservation Club in Wisconsin and East Slope Taxpayers in Cut Bank, Montana fall into this category. These LOCAL GROUPS are linked independently and through two main group associations: THE INTERSTATE CONGRESS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES which has been a recipient of financial support from Joseph Coors of Coors Beer fame, and the PROTECT AMERICANS' RIGHTS & RESOURCES ASSOCIATION (PARR) which was formed in Wisconsin in March 1987.

These small associations of individuals and larger associations of organizations have worked to gain support for their interests through the National Associations of Counties (NaCo), the National Wildlife Federation and the National Rifle Association.

While the Anti-Indian Movement has grown and become more sophisticated in the last 20 years, its actual impact has been fairly small. In 1987, however, the Anti-Indian Movement began to have an impact on the actual functioning of Indian governments, and it had a greater affect on the political aggressiveness of a number of State governments. Instead of directing their attention to legal actions, the Anti-Indian Movement focuses on political action centered on State legislatures, State Attorneys' General, U.S. Congressional offices and public opinion.

ENTER RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS

The formation of groups in the Pacific Northwest which have the intent of intimidating, violently attacking and even killing members of different societies (Non-Whites, Jewish people, etc.) began in earnest ten years ago. Organized activities began much earlier in the mid-western states and the Great Lakes Region. Individuals connected with various churches, political groups, intellectual groups, and paramilitary groups broadly identified with the NEW-RIGHT, ULTRA-RIGHT, and the NEO-NAZI movement assert their intention to occupy and TAKE the five state area including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as a homeland for what they call the Aryan Nation. Groups like CITIZENS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT, COMMITTEE TO RESTORE THE CONSTITUTION, NATIONAL SOCIALIST VANGUARD, CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST CHRISTIAN (ARYAN NATIONS), POSSEE COMMITATUS, THE DUCK CLUB, and THE ORDER have been established in towns near Indian reservations and on some reservations in Idaho, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, Alaska, Wisconsin, Montana and South Dakota.

All of these groups are ultraconservative and far-right in their ideology. All have close links with neo-nazi aspirations. The most visible of these on Indian reservations are the Citizens for Constitutional Government and Committee to Restore the Constitution. Individuals active in the Anti-Indian Movement have been directly linked to the Committee to Restore the Constitution.

The Anti-Indian Movement, Extreme Right-Wing groups and the competition between governments are all concerned with LAND and JURISDICTION. These are refined terms for the same conflict that has been going on for more than four hundred years. The conflict now, however, is political; peppered with occasional instances of violent behaviour. It is also a conflict which rages both INSIDE and OUTSIDE Indian reservations.

Organized Anti-Indian activists have been joined by private individuals on and near Indian reservations who fear Indian tribes. Growing evidence suggests that Extreme Right-Wing activists connected to such groups as the "White Aryan Nation," "The Order" and the "Identity Church" have located on and near Indian reservations; and, they are winning converts from "those who fear Indian tribes." This is a new wrinkle in Anti-Indian activity, which may contain the seeds of greater conflicts in the future.

The Order operates near the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, while elements of the Identity Church operate near the Quinault and Lummi Indian Reservations. The Duck Club operates near two Klallam reservations in Northwest Washington State, and growing evidence suggests that the groups have actually infiltrated some reservations. Citizens for Constitutional Government and the Committee to restore the Constitution have strong political connections in Southern California and have visible presence near the Yakima, Lummi and Colville reservations in Washington State, and the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho.

While the Anti-Indian Movement has its "racist leaders," it has remained primarily oriented to political action and public demonstrations.

The Extreme Right-Wing groups, however, tend to combine political action, intimidation, paramilitary activity, actual land occupation and public demonstrations. While both are relatively small, these apparently converging movements have important impacts on community stability through the use of intimidation and "bully politics."

ANTI-INDIAN AND RIGHT-WING HARMONIC CONVERGENCE: 1986-1987

The apparent convergence of the Anti-Indian Movement and Right-Wing Extremists is ominous not only because of the instability and threat posed to Indian communities.

Both the Anti-Indian Movement and Right-Wing Extremist groups have an intense interest in both Indian land and reducing Indian government's powers. When combined with the efforts of State governments and the United States government to further reduce Indian rights and Indian lands, the Anti-Indian Movement and emerging presence of Right-Wing Extremist groups operating from a fundamentally racist, WHITE-SUPREMACIST ideology pose a serious threat to Indian people.

Out of sight, and out of mind, the movement to organize opposition to Indian tribes (now twenty years old) has continued to grow. It has grown into a sophisticated movement involving scores of small organizations, a few large organizations, businesses, county governments, state legislatures, offices of State Attorneys General, candidates for Congressional office in three states, and a growing number of individual Indians and non-Indians. The Anti-Indian Movement has a few ideological activists. It now includes conservative and right-wing ideologs, farmers, on-reservation land-owners, hunters, fishermen, small businesses, and a growing number of individuals who have become persuaded that Indian Tribes must be eliminated.

Here are a few "apparently unrelated events" that took place in 1987:

  • The PROTECT AMERICANS' RIGHTS & RESOURCES (PARR) organization was formed in Wisconsin, in March 1987. The PARR called for a boycott of all high stakes bingo on Indian reservations as a way to counter a threat by Chippewas to boycott merchants in Ashland, Wisconsin.
  • In Montana, about 300 Indian and non-Indian farmers and ranchers joined a "tractorcade convoy" to protest the Bureau of Indian Affairs' control over the Flathead Irrigation Project. Water, they said, should be under the control of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and eventually under the control of the users themselves. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs to counter the protest.
  • In Washington, Indians arrested by U.S. authorities for fishing the Columbia River received an acquittal from the Yakima Tribal Court, but sit in a Federal jail. Political intimidation inside the Yakima reservation increased. Non-Indian activist increasingly exploit public ignorance about a U.S. Internal Revenue Service challenge to the Lummi Indian Tribe's claim that individual Indian earnings from the sale of trust protected resources are exempt from U.S. income tax. The subject is of particular interest to leaders of the COMMITTEE TO RESTORE THE CONSTITUTION.
  • The Michigan based organization, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH protested Indian treaty-protected fishing and hunting in Northern Michigan.
  • In Minnesota, the TOTALLY EQUAL AMERICANS organization expresses satisfaction and distrust with Montana Senator John Melcher's proposed legislation for Congress to "review Indian tribal authority to impose taxes on non-tribal persons on Indian reservations."
  • THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES (NaCo) considered supporting a study to reclassify Indian reservations like counties and cities.
  • The Washington State Attorney General authored a letter to U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese expressing gratitude for a December 9, 1987 meeting to discuss federal Indian policy, and "the unheard voices [of] individual Indian and non-Indian citizens who are being directly impacted by such federal Indian policies."

The Anti-Indian Movement has evolved a jargon of its own with buzz words and slogans: EQUAL RIGHTS, NON-INDIAN AND NON-TRIBAL-INDIAN RIGHTS, INDIAN LAWS SUPPLANT THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES, THE U.S. CONSTITUTION IS BEING IGNORED, INITIATIVE 456, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE IMPACT OF FEDERAL INDIAN POLICY ON NON-TRIBAL INDIANS AND NON-INDIANS, EQUAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR A RACE OF PEOPLE, and ABROGATION OF TREATIES. Out of an historical context, these terms and phrases have the ring of respectability, and even "mainstream politics." The contemporary environment in which these phrases have taken on meaning is decidedly not mainstream. Ultra-conservative groups have adopted buzz words and slogans that are very similar, and Right-Wing Extremists frequently rely on such words to express their views.

ANTICIPATING THE YEAR AHEAD

In 1988, the Anti-Indian Movement and elements of the extreme Right- Wing will continue to agitate on and near Indian reservations over "special interests" like hunting rights, fishing rights, land rights, jurisdiction, bingo, taxation and "government representation on reservations." Organizations will increase efforts to lobby support for anti-Indian legislation and legal contests through state governments. Specific emphasis will be placed on Attorneys General in the Western States who will seek to force U.S. government consideration of new policies to "protect non-Indians and non-Tribal Indians from tribal governments." Continuing efforts will be mounted to force the establishment of a Presidential or Congressional Commission to Investigate the effects of federal Indian Policies on non-Tribal Indian and non-Indian citizens of the United States. Finally, the Anti-Indian Movement will mobilize resources to support anti-Indian political candidates for state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress. Particular emphasis is being placed on Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alaska and Nevada.

It can be further expected, despite recent indictments of leading Right-Wing Extremists, there will be a greater convergence between Anti- Indian Movement activists and ultraconservative and right-wing groups like the Citizens for Constitutional Government, Committee to Restore the Constitution, Church of Jesus Christ Christian and the Duck Club. Though closely associated with more militant extremist, these groups have achieved a level of public respectability and appear (PUBLICLY) insulated from extremist groups. Because some of the ultraconservative groups are lead by individuals who have achieved some prominence as State and County elected officials, they are even more able to wear the label of respectability.

Indian government, fishing, hunting, land, taxation, equal rights, will broaden as the principal themes of the Anti-Indian Movement. Changes in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Indian tribes will be increasingly exploited. State legislatures, county governments and popular referenda will continue to be used to promote "popular opposition to Indian tribes."

Because the United States and Canada are entering a "political year," the more respectable elements of ultraconservative and right-wing groups will assume a greater level of public visibility -- exploiting popular discontent and local economic upheavals. Indian tribes can expect a substantial escalation in frequency of incidents and political action.

Despite a long felt wish that "people would just leave Indians alone to live as they wish," organized efforts to subvert Indian governments, create political division inside Indian tribes and force State, Provincial, County and Federal Challenges to tribal government authority continue to mount. Despite the growing Anti-Indian Movement, there is no effective plan among Indian tribes to counter it across the country or inside Indian reservations. There is no consensus among Indian leaders about what the Anti-Indian Movement consists of, nor is there a consensus about what the movement actually means and why it is occurring. This condition of disarray will continue to be exploited.

Indian Tribes are on the defensive in nine states in the United States and three provinces in Canada. Though not winning many actual concessions from the U.S. government, the Anti-Indian Movement is rapidly moving with success among State and Provincial governments (many legislators and Attorneys General), Counties (County Executives, Commissioners, Sheriffs) and increasing numbers of "distressed non- Indians" on and near reservations. Anti-Indian organizational efforts are strongest in Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alaska and Nevada in the United States. Canadian Anti-Indian Activists and Right-Wing Extremists have increasingly close ties with their U.S. counter-parts. Their strength is greatest in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. In some instances, these groups will expand by organizing joint actions across the U.S./Canada border.

The complete findings of the Right-Wing Extremism & Anti-Indian Project may be found in _Anti-Indian Movement on the Tribal Frontier, Special 2nd Edition_, by Rudolph C. Ryser for $10.50 ($US).

For orders or information, please write to:

Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Copyright 1988 Center For World Indigenous Studies

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