Republican Congressman Calls Native Americans ‘Wards Of The Federal Government’
[su_right_ad]Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar is getting harsh reactions to his comment that American Indians are “wards of the federal government.” The comments took place during a meeting about a land deal that would lead to the country’s largest copper mine.
The Arizona Republican was responding to concerns from Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe when he made the comment that stunned people at the round-table talk.
Stago said the phrase is antiquated and ignores advances made in tribes managing their own affairs and seeking equal representation when it comes to projects proposed on land they consider sacred.
“He kind of revealed the truth — the true deep feeling of the federal government: ‘Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you’re not really sovereign because we still have plenary authority over you,'” Stago told The Associated Press.
Gosar spokesman Steven Smith said that wasn’t the intent of the congressman, whose constituents in the 4th Congressional District include Apache tribes. He didn’t respond to requests to elaborate further…
One topic they addressed was a proposal to swap 2,400 acres of southeastern Arizona’s Tonto National Forest for about 5,300 acres of environmentally sensitive land throughout the state controlled by a subsidiary of global mining giant Rio Tinto. Stago said the proposal was disrespectful to tribal sovereignty.
Gosar said: “You’re still wards of the federal government,” according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
While former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall described tribes’ relationship with the federal government as that of a ward to its guardian in the 1830s, that characterization has long been irrelevant, experts in federal Indian law said.[su_csky_ad]