February 16, 2010

Crow Nation Tea Party

Tribal tea partiers hold rally

By Tom LuteyCalling for new tribal leadership and a break from the federal government, founders of the first Crow Indian Tea Party movement rallied Monday in Hardin.

Leading the new Crow Nation Tea Party was Adrian Bird Sr., a former tribal chairman candidate who recently filed a civil complaint against the Crow executive branch alleging malfeasance for mismanaging tribal funds.

Bird, his wife, Lavanna, and fellow Tea Party founder Karmelita Plains Bull Martin are seeking to impeach the tribe’s four executives and take the Indian government in a different direction.

“We want them out of there because they are mismanaging tribal funds,” Bird said. “We need to get the people together.”
Mismanaging government funds isn't exactly what mainstream Tea Parties are complaining about. But let's see some specific charges against the Crow tribal leadership:Plains Bull Martin said the new Tea Party group also objects to the management of the Indian Health Services, which guarantees coverage only to Indians living on the Crow Reservation and doesn’t offer preventative care.

Plains Bull Martin and others also accused the Crow Nation of not using the Indian Child Welfare Act to give native families first preference for Indian foster children and to notify immediate family members of where child relatives were being placed within the foster system.
Comment:  Hmm. In addition to stopping the mismanagement, these Tea Partiers want more healthcare services and better enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act. In other words, they want more government, not less. That's not a standard Tea Party message.

Give the Crow dissidents credit for coming up with a great way to publicize their cause. In fact, this suggests other uses for the "tea party" idea. For instance, are you upset by Hollywood's casting practices or stereotypical mascots? March with signs but call it a "tea party" rather than just a protest.

But if I were part of the Tea Party movement, I'd try to stop others from using the "tea party" brand. The Crow protest is only vaguely related to the teabaggers' demand for less government, fewer taxes, and no aid to poor minorities. When every protest becomes a tea party, the Tea Party movement will lose its cachet.

For more on the subject, see Real Indian at Tax Protest and Teabaggers Misuse Indian Imagery.

Below:  "Karmelita Plains Bull Martin organized the first Tea Party protest by Crow tribal members in Hardin on Monday, February 15, 2010. Tea Party members from Billings, Great Falls, Townsend, Bozeman, Big Timber and Miles City drove to Hardin to show support for the newest Tea Party chapter near the Crow Indian Reservation." (Larry Mayer/Gazette Staff)