Election time is correction time

Rebecca L Adamson
12/27/00

The U.S. Supreme Court fell back on one of its oldest Indian tricks when it ruled that the Florida election results were flawed and unreliable - but too bad, the damage has been done and no time to fix it now, not if the timetable for the Electoral College is going to be met.

In other words, legally we would like to count your vote, but politically we just do not have the time.

In Indian Country, we know all about court-acknowledged wrongs without a remedy. The Black Hills were found in court to have been taken from us in violation of every national law or treaty ever drafted, but they couldn?t be given back because too much time has passed. Numerous tribes have been deprived of lawfully protected water rights, only to find in court that it would be too complex and costly to determine any compensation for lost resources.

And how about the trust funds? Billions of Indian dollars have been spent on others, misplaced or mismanaged, and various remedies are under consideration. But if the case for compensation ever gets to U.S. Supreme Court, we know what the answer will be: yes you?ve been robbed, and no we can't fix it now.

Perhaps Gore attorneys should have consulted with a few Indian attorneys. Perhaps Bush lawyers did. Either way, Native people could have shared with them case upon case in which our nation?s foremost repository of justice has served as little more than a clock. In Indian affairs, this always means too much time has passed for justice to prevail against historic wrongs. In Florida, it meant there was not enough time at hand for justice to prevail against contemporary wrongs. Either way, it means time, too much or too little, past or future, denies justice to the present.

Racism? We?ll never know, for the court verdict is in: can?t fix it now!

Whether you were for Bush or for Gore, no one can possibly want the allegations of racism to undermine the integrity of our political process, but here we sit.

Like other low income communities and minorities, Native people know the difficulties in exercising our right to vote. Low-income communities always get the worst outworn voting equipment and transportation to the polls must be begged or borrowed. These are real barriers and then there are the charges of unauthorized checkpoints, manipulated ballots, undercounts, denied access to polls, and 18,000 lost votes.

Charges of racism are impossible to disprove now that a recount has been quashed ... sorry, no time!

Now that the whole nation knows how Indians feel, perhaps this is the election that leads us to take the time for correction.

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