Nooksack’s Michelle Roberts Submits Open Letter to Jewell & Washburn
Secretary [Sally] Jewell, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs [Kevin K.] Washburn:
In the wake of the Cedarville tragedy, will you now honor your trust responsibility to all American Indians to prevent such disenrollment-atrocities?
As the media has rightfully observed, “the shooting in Modoc County is the latest, and most chilling, example of tribal violence over power struggles and disenrollments.”
In December, Nooksack Tribal Secretary Rudy St. Germain and I wrote each of you, after you ignored a petition signed in October by 900 tribal members in Washington State, imploring your intercession in our disenrollment.
We asked you:
“What will it take for you to honor your trust responsibility? The threatened unconstitutional taking of Indian-owned homes? Further educational discrimination against Indian children? Tribal elders’ loss of health care or their resulting death? Violence amongst our people? We hope not. We hope you will do something, now."
But you ignored that letter and our follow-up emails, too. You have not even given us the courtesy of a single response or acknowledgment.
Our family and tribal members have also been subject to abuse of process by others on our Tribal Council, racial slurs and taunting by our opponents, visits to our homes by tribal police at all hours of the night, and treatment like criminals by the tribal court and cops. Meanwhile, there has been almost no democratic process at Nooksack in well over a year; no General Council meetings; no public Tribal Council meetings. Recall petitions signed by hundreds of us have been thrown away. And the doors of the Tribal Court have been closed to us.
So we have worried about the dispute turning violent on our reservation. History teaches us that when democracy falters, when there is no due process, when free speech is stifled, people take matters into their own hands.
We have read about the Chuchanski "civil war" that resulted in a riot and stabbing, and about the protest at Berry Creek that was broken up by county cops with a flash-bang grenade. Yet you at Interior pick and choose whether to get involved, and when to get involved. You got involved with the Cherokee Freedman when you didn't have to. You finally got involved at Chuckanski. But you have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to our situations and our pleas for help.
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