Last week, Professor Kevin Washburn wrote about the “particularly vexing problem” that is “the disenrollment crisis,” suggesting:
[F]or tribes engaging in disenrollment in what appears to be an unjust manner . . . perhaps the federal government should reserve the right to assert diplomatic consequences, which could be fiscal in nature, equivalent to international economic sanctions . . .
In 2014, Professor Washburn, Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, rightly called disenrollment acts “human rights violations.”
Economic sanctions are a widely accepted, in fact expected, way for sovereigns and NGOs to deter human rights abuse. For decades, the United States imposed economic sanctions against Cuba in part due to human rights violations by the Castro Regime.
In 2015, when then Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a law that allowed business to discriminate against LGBT, states like Washington, New York and Connecticut banned state-funded travel to the Hoosier State.
Last year, when North Carolina passed its bathroom bill in violation of transgender human rights, the NCAA cancelled its plans to host lucrative championship events there.
With disenrollment now an epidemic that has ravaged in upwards of 9,000 tribal members from 79 tribes in 20 states, Indian Country’s power elite must do something.
In the spirit of Professor Washburn’s call for nation-to-nation economic sanctions for disenrollment, Native Nations and associations like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and their regional counterparts, should start by boycotting disenrolling tribes.
In particular, those inter-tribal organizations should refuse to hold their lucrative conferences in the territory of, or otherwise in conjunction with, a disenrolling tribe.
The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) recently held is Mid-Year Conference on the Grand Ronde Reservation; it should not do so again.
United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) is poised to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to host its Annual Meeting this year; that meeting should occur elsewhere in Indian Country.
It is time for Indian Country to put its money where our values are.
Gabriel S. Galanda is the managing lawyer of Galanda Broadman, PLLC, in Seattle. Gabe is a descendant of the Nomlaki and Concow Tribes, belonging to the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Northern California. He advocates to #StopDisenrollment.