BIA Betraying Its Trust Responsibility for 'Disenrolled'

Harold Monteau

The entitlement of Native Americans to benefits and services from the United States, as trustee for Indian Persons and Indian Tribes, cannot be terminated without due process of law on the part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The fiduciary duty of the U.S. Government cannot be so easily disavowed by the BIA when to do so involves the enforcement of a legal standard of “blood quantum” or “membership”, whether it is by the BIA or by a surrogate, such as an Indian Tribe. Those standards made their way into Federal Law at a time when the policy of the United States was to work towards the termination of the Indian Tribes and the Trust Responsibility by enforcing policies that would cause the eventual disappearance of Tribes and disbursal and disappearance of individual Indians “into the mainstream” of society. Such a policy comports with no “fiduciary” standard known to western jurisprudence. A “trustee” cannot facilitate the “disappearance” of a “beneficiary” any more than it would comport with Fiduciary Responsibility to bring about the demise of the beneficiary in order to terminate the duties of the trustee. Such a policy meets the definition of Genocide.

The BIA cannot point to any U.S. Statute that permits the BIA to terminate its trust responsibility to Tribes and Indians based upon a “blood quantum for membership” requirement. Similarly, there exists no U.S. Statute that requires the BIA to terminate “its” trust responsibility based upon the actions of a Tribe in “disenrolling” a “birthright” descendent of an Indian Tribe by utilizing a “surrogate” to enforce a former U.S. Policy that does not comport with fiduciary standards or comport with International Laws (Conventions) to which the U.S. is a signatory. Nor can the U.S. disavow authority over such Tribal Governmental actions based upon an assumption that a tribe has a “sovereign authority” to facilitate the eventual disappearance of the Tribe as an aggregate of its members. That too would be a violation of International law, by “facilitating the disappearance of an identifiable group” subject to the purview such law or “putting the group under such conditions, as would by intent or natural consequence, bring about the eventual disappearance of such group”.

The United States has figured out a very disingenuous (sly, if you will) way to bring about the disappearance of Indian Tribes by shirking its fiduciary duties under the guise of promoting “Tribal Sovereignty”. Tribes, under U.S. Law as it now stands, are “quasi-sovereign governmental entities” which are subject to the Trust oversight of the U.S. Government until such Trustee-Beneficiary relationship is terminated, and even then, such termination would have to be self-inflicted because for the U.S. to do so would violate the International Laws against committing acts that lead to the Tribes’ disappearance (Genocide).

For the United States to base the enforcement of its continuing policy, which facilitates the disappearance of Indian Tribes (by attrition of membership), on a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving one tribe with a particularized tradition of treating a tribal member female as now belonging to the tribe of her spouse, does not comport with the Trustee-Beneficiary relationship and is, in fact, an act of Genocide in the eyes of the World Community under standards set by International Conventions to which the U.S. is a signatory and which is codified into Federal Statutory Law. While the “remedies” for violations of the Statute are severely restricted, nonetheless, the standards within the Conventions are part of the body of United State Law. Consequently, Judicial, Administrative and Congressional notice should be taken of these standards regarding the actions of any branch of the U.S. Government.

Harold Monteau is a Chippewa Cree Attorney and Economic Development Consultant residing in New Mexico and can be reached at [email protected].

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turbojesus's picture
It's think it's counter productive to call the "benefits" of native americans as entitlements. In America, we call such things entitlements while in Europe they're called austerity measures/laws. Also comparing disenrollment to genocide doesn't help your argument as it just seems like hyperbole. Another problem is that your interpretation of law is just that. It's an interpretation of the text. What about the Dawes commission and the innumerable number of native americans that went to court and were disenrolled? I'm sure their other precedents that've allowed the court such powers.