Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs - Kevin Washburn on Tribal Enrollment Disputes

Indian Country Today Media Network published some quotes from AS-IA Kevin Washburn with regard to Tribal Membership Disputes.  I posted a few excerpts below but I recommend reading the whole article.  Click the link below to go to the full article. Washburn on Membership Disputes: Should US Trample on Sovereignty?

By Gale Courey Toensing

Emphasizing that he was speaking in general terms and not about any specific tribe, Washburn told ICTMN that issues surrounding tribal leadership and membership disputes “are the hardest questions that I face,” because they raise core questions about the fundamental meaning and practice of sovereignty.
“I think the question is, should tribes always be sovereign and self-governing? Or are there times when the United States should trample over their sovereignty and self-governance for some other purpose – the principle of justice or equity or something like that?” Washburn said.
“One can make a solid argument that the United States never has any business trampling on tribal sovereignty and self-governance, but that’s not satisfying to everyone because we all see occasionally a tribe doing something that well-thinking people outside the tribe disagree with. These are just agonizing decisions and I’m not convinced that the United States is better at making these decisions on average than tribes are at making them themselves,” Washburn said.
As sovereign nations, perhaps tribes should be looking to other authorities for conflict resolution, he suggested.
“There are other forums for deciding tribal disputes that might better serve tribes than the United States. A lot of what we see are human rights violations, at least arguably so, and the United States is not the only entity that has an interest in policing human rights violations."