America Goes To War

Staff Reports
3/23/03

WASHINGTON - The ultimatums have been issued, the troops have been deployed and the demands have not been satisfactorily met. How will the war affect Indian country? Indian Country Today showcases statements from tribal leaders, government officials and a renowned scholar.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., the only American Indian in the United States Congress stated his thoughts on the war in Iraq. Senator Campbell is the only veteran in the Colorado Congressional delegation. He would not lightly support military action, but he understands the value of a line drawn in the sand. The senator supports President Bush and the troops.

"I really hate the thought of what is going to happen. There is unfortunately going to be some loss of life. It always happens in war. But I think Saddam Hussein and his henchmen bear the blame for that more than us."

Noted American Indian author Vine Deloria Jr., who has written on a variety of subjects including religion and science from an American Indian perspective, questions the validity of the Bush Administration's claims that Iraq is actually in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

"I don't understand the logic, if any, behind this war movement. We are apparently going to attack Iraq for not living up to the UN resolutions demanding it disarm. But we are defying the UN just like Saddam to do it. We believe that he has weapons of mass destruction although the only evidence we have is bogus documents purporting to show him purchasing uranium from Nigeria which have been fraudulent and proven a great embarrassment to us. Meanwhile North Korea is doing everything it can to create friction in the Pacific, has an atomic program, and is developing missiles that can reach our shores ? and the only government official willing to discuss this serious situation is the Governor of New Mexico. What ever happened to the Constitution of the United States?"

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Senator Daniel K. Inouye D-Hawaii made the following statement during the debate around the congressional resolution on Iraq, on which he voted in the minority against the President.

"While I have no doubt that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator ... I do not believe the United States should strike preemptively without evidence of an imminent threat to our national security."

After the President's speech on March 17, Inouye made this statement.

"If President Bush's ultimatum to Saddam Hussein requires the sending of our men and women into harm's way, I hope that all America will stand united in supporting our troops."

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Marcia Jones Flowers, chairwoman of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation issued the following statement.

"Our hearts go out to those who serve this country and the families waiting for them to return from the Middle East. We pray that the conflict will be over soon and the world can begin to heal its divisions."

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Comments from Mark Brown, chairman of Mohegan Tribe.

"Sometimes I give my individual views, but believe I speak for the tribe. Mohegan Tribe is sovereign nation but sovereign loyal to United States. Going back to Revolutionary War, the first Native American to die for the Revolution was a Mohegan, Simon Ashbow. He died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. I believe that we're doing the right thing and I believe it will be quick. Of course you're talking to a person whose father put in 25 years in the military and who has two brothers in the military."

Connecticut's two Indian casinos added unprecedented security measures, fearing they could be targets of a terrorist retaliation. Beefed up security personnel inspected trunks of cars parking in the underground garage at Foxwoods Casino Resort, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and 10 miles away at the Mohegan Sun guards used mirrors on poles to inspect the undercarriage of autos at the valet parking stand. Brown attributed some of the caution to his own background as a career police officer. The commentator in a friendly TV news report on the measures observed, "The casinos believe that you should risk your money when you visit, but not your lives."

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Everdale Song Hawk, vice chairman Yankton Sioux Tribe comments on war.

"The Business and Community council met this morning and discussed the war issue. We aren't sure how it will affect us. We have a just compensation bill that will not yield interest for many years, and we don't know how that can be affected by this war. We've gone through this many times. The government doesn't abide by treaties. We've been terrorized for 100 years. We always have to fight for something that is ours by treaty, we get no respect. We went through condemnation when tribal members were removed and the flooding of the Missouri River that took much of our land and flooded our burial sites all with no consultation. We will suffer like the other tribes, we all feel the same way."

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