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Washington GOP calls for end of tribal rule

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File this story under W, as in “Weird,” “Worrisome,” or “Way off the deep end.”

On June 17, the Washington State Republican Party passed a resolution at its statewide convention calling on the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to “immediately take whatever steps [are] necessary to terminate all such non-republican forms of government on Indian reservations, and compensate those citizens who have wrongly suffered loss due to denial of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to be governed by a republican form of government.”

John Fleming, the Skagit County (Wash.) delegate who was the primary author of the resolution, declared at the GOP state convention that “the U.S. Army and the Air Force and the Marines and the National Guard are going to have to battle back” if the tribes resist the termination of their governments. According to a press release issued by the Montana Democratic Party, Fleming, a resident of the Swinomish Indian Reservation in northwest Washington, plans to introduce the same resolution this week at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

The resolution states that the BIA “is currently aiding and abetting Indian tribes to regulate and collect taxes, injure property rights, withhold due process and grant unequal protection under the laws to some citizens, for the benefit and advantage of other citizens.”

“It is an outrage,” says Montana Democratic State Representative and Mandan-Hidatsa Tribal Member Carol Juneau of the resolution. “I call upon Montana Republicans to publicly repudiate the wayward and blatantly racist actions of the Washington Republican Party. It is divisive to even speak of turning our military on our own.”

About 1.2 million Indians live on more than 550 federally recognized Indian reservations nationwide, according to 1993 BIA estimates.

In response to the resolution, Montana Democratic Party Chairman Bob Ream sent a letter dated July 21 to some Montana Republicans, including Matt Denny, chairman of the Montana Republican Party, Sen. Conrad Burns, Lt. Governor Judy Martz and Republican congressional candidate Dennis Rehberg, asking them to immediately denounce the resolution and fight against its passage at the national convention.

As of press time, no response had been received from any of the Montana Republicans. But according to Alan Mikkelsen, campaign manager for Rehberg, they never received that letter, adding, “It is pretty much a non-issue in Montana because it’s not part of the Montana Republican Party platform, it’s not part of the national party platform … and I don’t think that thing ever saw the light of day in Philadelphia.”

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