By Shawn Vestal
They are, if Bob Eberle and his fellow Skagit County Republicans have anything to say about it.
Eberle lives on the Swinomish Indian Reservation on Puget Sound. He supports a Skagit County GOP platform that included a plank calling for federal intervention in tribal elections, forcing them to allow nonmembers to vote. He presents the notion as simple and inoffensive, a matter of fairness, and not an assault on the right of tribes to govern themselves. But the truth is that Eberle and his fellow travelers don't believe in the right of tribes to govern themselves at all.
"This business about the Indians having sovereign authority is a bunch of bunk," he said. "They adhere solely to laws passed by the U.S. Congress."
Eberle said he hopes the state GOP--which is convening now in Tacoma--will adopt the plank, though the last time he and his fellows took on tribal sovereignty it didn't go so well. In 2000, Eberle and John Fleming--a longtime opponent of tribal sovereignty who also lives on the Swinomish reservation--supported an even farther-reaching attempt to eliminate tribal sovereignty, including a provision that the government compensate people like Eberle and Fleming for the denial of their constitutional rights.
At the time, Fleming said that if tribes couldn't be persuaded to just go along with the idea, "the U.S. Army and the Air Force and the Marines and the National Guard are going to have to battle back."
This was a little too crazy for the GOP back then. Mainstream Republicans tripped over themselves backing away from the thing following a national controversy. Even Slade Gorton, no friend to tribal sovereignty, opposed it.
In other words, he's a typical conservative bigot.
If tribes gave him the right to vote, you can bet he'd find something else to complain about. There's never a point where these people say enough. That's why we had the termination era--because nothing less than eliminating tribes would satisfy these people.
These crybabies came crawling out of the woodwork when Indian gaming was taking off 10-15 years ago. We haven't heard much from them since. Are they making a comeback, or is this an isolated case?
For more on tribal sovereignty, see What If US Honored Treaties? and Americans Support Tribal Sovereignty.