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One of Donald Trump’s five principal foreign policy advisors is no friend of Indian country.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Advisor Accuses Tribes of Terrorist Plot

Steve Russell

One of Donald Trump’s five principal foreign policy advisors was counsel in a lawsuit to prevent the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes from taking over a dam on tribal land, formerly known as Kerr Dam and now called Salish-Kootenai Dam. The “legal” theory asserted to keep the tribes from acquiring the dam is particularly pertinent to Joseph Schmitz’s foreign policy bona fides.

RELATED: Salish-Kootenai Dam: First Tribally Owned Hydro-Electric Dam in U.S.

The claim to stop the tribes from owning the dam on their property was that the acquisition of it was part of a terrorist plot to help Turkey acquire nuclear materials.

While it is true that Turkey is among the handful of foreign nations to have direct relationships with Indian nations, those relationships have been about a Turkish invitation to Indian students in study abroad programs to choose Turkey as a destination and Turkish grants to tribes for economic development. In 2012, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) offered a development grant to tribal governments, a competition won by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation for a water project.

RELATED: Turkish Official Encourages Tribal-Turkey Relations

While it is true that most Turks are Muslims and there are some people in this country who think all Muslims are terrorists, those ideas have little currency in the fact-based community that dominates most foreign policy discussion.

It is not true that the Salish and Kootenai people have had any dealing with Turkey about hydropower, let alone nuclear materials.

It is not true that Turks are proselytizing for Islam on the Flathead Reservation. George Ochenski, writing in a Missoulian op-ed, opined about “Turkish Islam terrorists taking over the Salish-Kootenai” that “after a century of having non-Indians try to take over everything the tribe was supposed to get in the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, Turks are the least of tribal or non-tribal citizens’ worries.”

The sensational national security allegations in the attempt to stop the dam transaction are just blurted out – what lawyers call conclusory pleading. Normally, the lawyers would lay out each link in a conspiracy in a series of numbered paragraphs leading to the conclusion that if the Indians take over the dam then the Turks will use that transaction in some terrorist enterprise. If this scenario has you scratching your head, take solace: it had the same impact on the judge who heard the case.

The “logic” of the national security complaint starts with the general statement that Turkey is involving itself with Indian tribes because “the reservation is largely off-limits to federal and state regulatory authorities.”  While state regulations generally have no force on Indian land, the absence of federal authorities would be welcome news to lots of Indians…if it were only true.

The plaintiffs warn of the alleged lack of regulation, “this setting would provide Turkey and such organizations with the opportunity to more freely promote their brand of Islam on reservations and/or to pursue other potentially more dangerous activities.”

This leads to the claim that Turkey seeks “access to the uranium deposits and bountiful water sources surrounding the Flathead Reservation for production of yellowcake capable of later conversion to a gaseous state for eventual use in incendiary devices.”

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras denied the request to stop the tribes, finding the lawsuit "failed to raise any fact or point to any evidence in the application for transfer that would materially call into question (the tribes’) suitability to serve as licensee.” Judge Contreras only noted in passing "somewhat perplexing arguments regarding the Turkish government's involvement with Native Americans." 

Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S. The NATO treaty is known among even people who have not read it for Article Five, which holds that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. In other words, Turkey is under the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. There would be nothing sinister in tribal relations with Turkey if the Flathead Reservation had any.


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shood1943's picture
Submitted by shood1943 on
Well now the Turkish leader did say he is an expert on the American Indians.

shood1943's picture
Submitted by shood1943 on
Messing with radio active material? I do not even like the idea of Atomic Reactors. Give me cold fusion. Atomic Reactors all leak to some extent. Cold fusion looks rather benign to most life forms.

shood1943's picture
Submitted by shood1943 on
The Flatheads have their own to deal with which would not surprise me if their own could get a bit ticked about certain issues.