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Stereotype of the Month Entry
(8/2/04)


Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Indian Sovereignty And Kerry's Pathetic Attempt To Relive The Vietnam War
By Mary Mostert (08/02/2004)

Listening to the speeches given at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, I was struck by the delegates who emphasized John Kerry's support of the "sovereignty" of American Indian "nations" so I did some research on the subject. And, sure enough, Kerry does have a position on the subject. Kerry's website states: he "has a comprehensive agenda to improve the lives of Native Americans.

Kerry will work every day to promote tribal sovereignty. While there are a number of successes in Indian Country, in these times of economic hardship worsened by the policies of the Bush Administration Kerry recognizes that the Federal government must partner with tribes to improve access to health care, provide more educational opportunities, and strengthen economic development efforts."

According to the American Indian Policy Center, (AIPC) the "sovereignty" of the 550 Indian nation-states within the 50 United States of America, is defined as "an internationally recognized concept. A basic tenet of sovereignty is the power of a people to govern themselves." AIPC emphasizes that sovereignty by stating "The U.S. Constitution recognizes Indian tribes as distinct governments. It authorizes Congress to regulate commerce with "foreign nations, among the several state, and with the Indian tribes."

In practice, that means, according to various Supreme Court decisions, that Indians and Indian tribal businesses on reservations, rancherias, Indian communities or pueblos do not pay taxes to either the state or federal governments.

This untaxed condition, plus the right of the Indian nations to determine who is, and who isn't a member of their nation has naturally greatly increased the number of Indians and Indians businesses, in recent years. In some Indian nations, if a person can identify one great-great-great grandparent (1/30th of a person's genetic heritage) as having been a member of the tribe, they are recognized as having the right to citizenship in that Indian nation.

A perusal of Indian websites informs me that this untaxed condition, has been a factor in basically nullifying past efforts by Democrat presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to end Indian second-class citizenship of Indians and assimilate them as Americans with all the rights and responsibilities as the rest of us.

According to the Constitution of the United States, as long as Indians are untaxed, they are actually not citizens. When the Constitution was written in 1787 the most contentious issue involved who would be counted as citizens of a state for the purpose of deciding how many seats in Congress went to each state. The small states, like New Jersey and Delaware, wanted each state to have the vote. In particular, they wanted to reduce the power and influence of Virginia, which had the largest population at the time. However, the delegates voted to allot the number of Representatives in the House based on population, which would allow states with the larger populations to have larger congressional delegations.

While there was no argument about counting women and children to determine representation, even though they could not vote, there was debate on counting slaves and indentured servants. There were slaves in all 13 colonies as well as indentured servants and Indians, but Virginia, with the most population, had the largest number and both Virginia and Maryland had passed laws ending the importation of slaves. Prior to the Revolution, George Mason reminded the delegates "The British Government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop" to the slave trade. William Paterson of N.J. moved that slaves not be counted at all.

The compromise finally agree to was in Article I Section 2 which read: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons."

This was changed by section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective number, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed." That seems to be pretty clear that untaxed Indians living in "sovereign Indian nations," some of which make millions on gambling casinos and hotels, are not residents of the United States or of the states in which the reservation is located.

Although the US Congress passed a law in 1924 giving Indians US citizenship, that did not change the Constitution. The 14th Amendment still excludes untaxed Indians from the national political process. The treaties still maintain separate tribal "sovereignties."

So, now in election year 2004 we have what appears to be an interesting phenomenon developing. Within the borders of the United States 550 sovereign Indian nations who do not pay taxes to the United States or the individual states, are exerting a growing impact in national and state politics. California's reservation Indians number approximately 14,000 people and those reservation casinos rake in an estimated $4-$6 billion in gambling receipts annually. They contributed millions to try to save Governor Gray Davis from recall.

Yet, the budget for the Bureau of Indian affairs keeps going UP, not down. Congress appropriated $2.3 billion for 2003 which pays in part for free socialized medicine for all 1.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The two top medical problems for Indians are alcoholism and diabetes which I seriously doubt afflicted their ancestors when they were chasing game on horseback to feed their families.

The discussion at the Democratic National Convention, which has centered on over-indulged and whining "minority" groups such as Indians, blacks, and women, has been a pathetic exercise to rewrite our memories by a group of aging baby boomers. In 1969 was John Kerry part of a noble band of heroes he now wants us to believe or a member the group he described in 1971 to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that had: "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan?"

One of these stories is a lie. Do we really need another accomplished Democrat liar in the White House so soon after Clinton?

Mary was involved in politics before she was old enough to vote and was writing articles for national magazines at the age of nineteen. She organized one of the first interracial youth groups in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s as a teenager, and was involved nationally and internationally in the civil rights movement and the peace movement.

Rob's reply
When Mary Mostert writes something, you can be sure it's ignorant.

This is a woman who thinks online polls are valid but Gallup and Field polls aren't. During the Clinton impeachment, she repeatedly cited Web-based polls to "prove" that more people disapproved of Bill C. than the media was reporting. Based on these polls, she predicted the public would rise up and throw the scoundrel out of office. She must've been stunned when Congress exonerated Clinton just as the real polls predicted.

News flash to Mary-Mary-quite-contrary: Online polls aren't accurate because the respondents aren't randomly selected. Instead, the respondents select themselves. Naturally, online polls skew conservative because the online population skews conservative.

Duh. A child could tell you this, but poor Mostert never figured it out. This Mary doesn't have a lost lamb, she is a lost lamb.

Now Mostert is flaunting her "knowledge" of Indians for everyone to see. To which I can only say: Look out below, Mary!

>> sure enough, Kerry does have a position on the subject. <<

Kerry's plan is a lot more comprehensive than Mostert lets on and a lot more comprehensive than anything Bush has. Read it for yourself and see.

>> Indians and Indian tribal businesses on reservations, rancherias, Indian communities or pueblos do not pay taxes to either the state or federal governments. <<

Wrong. Go back and study your Indian 101, Mary. Indians do pay taxes to the federal government. They don't pay state taxes because they're beholden to their own governments, not the state governments.

>> In some Indian nations, if a person can identify one great-great-great grandparent (1/30th of a person's genetic heritage) as having been a member of the tribe, they are recognized as having the right to citizenship in that Indian nation. <<

That's 1/32nd, not 1/30the. I presume Mostert rounded off 1/32nd to 1/30th...but why, since the latter takes up just as much space as the former? Could it be that Mostert can't do the math and figure out what fraction each great-great-great grandparent contributes?

>> A perusal of Indian websites informs me that this untaxed condition, has been a factor in basically nullifying past efforts by Democrat presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to end Indian second-class citizenship of Indians and assimilate them as Americans with all the rights and responsibilities as the rest of us. <<

This is a scary statement for a number of reasons:

1) Which Indian websites did Mostert peruse? What did they say? Who says they're authoritative?

2) Why did she single out those three presidents, all Democrats? Roosevelt and Kennedy didn't do that much to help Indians and neither did Truman or Eisenhower. Nixon is considered the first president who helped Indians substantially.

3) Who says assimilation was the answer to the Indians' second-class citizenship? No one who knows anything, that's who. The feds tried assimilation for a century, under presidents of all political stripes, and it failed miserably to do the job.

4) What rights and responsibilities does Mostert think Indians were lacking? The right to vote or serve on juries? These were withheld from Indians by government fiat. They had nothing to do with whether Indians were taxed.

The responsibility to serve in war? Indians served in greater percentages than any other ethnic group, even when they weren't citizens. Mostert's own ethnic group should be so responsible.

Presumably Mostert means the "responsibility" to pay taxes. State taxes, that is, since Indians already pay federal taxes. Perversely, she thinks Indians are suffering because they aren't paying enough taxes and they'd be better off if they paid more. Like most conservatives, she wants to increase taxes on the poor and minorities while decreasing them on well-off white people like herself. Thanks but no thanks, Mary.

Indians aren't citizens?!
>> According to the Constitution of the United States, as long as Indians are untaxed, they are actually not citizens. <<

Wrong, wrong, wrong. See the analysis below for the actual situation.

As a Constitutional scholar, Mostert makes a good poll reader. As a poll reader, Mostert makes a good ventriloquist's dummy. I trust you catch the drift.

>> That seems to be pretty clear that untaxed Indians living in "sovereign Indian nations," some of which make millions on gambling casinos and hotels, are not residents of the United States or of the states in which the reservation is located. <<

Sheesh, what an awkward sentence. What's pretty clear is that Mostert isn't a very good writer.

If there were a single Indian who paid no taxes, Mostert might have the inkling of a point on something other than her head. But all Indians pay the majority of taxes that everyone else pays. Since there are no untaxed Indians, Mostert has no point.

>> Within the borders of the United States 550 sovereign Indian nations who do not pay taxes to the United States or the individual states, are exerting a growing impact in national and state politics. <<

Mostert was talking about individual Indians, but now she's talking about Indian nations. Indian nations don't pay taxes because governments (federal, state, local, and tribal) don't tax other governments.

>> Yet, the budget for the Bureau of Indian affairs keeps going UP, not down. <<

As well it should, considering how grossly underfunded Indian services are.

Mostert's math is consistently bad. First, California has roughly 628,000 Indians according to the 2000 Census, not 14,000. Second, that's 628,000 out of roughly 3.1 million people who are members of some tribe. In other words, about 20%. Maybe the BIA budget is getting spent on the 80% of Indians who don't live in California and aren't benefiting from California's Indian gaming.

Of course, other states have Indian casinos, and some federal funds go to gaming tribes. The point is that Mostert doesn't know what she's talking about. Since she can't get the basic facts straight, why should anyone take her seriously?

>> Congress appropriated $2.3 billion for 2003 which pays in part for free socialized medicine for all 1.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. <<

First, the minimum number of people who identified themselves as Indian was 2.1 million in the 2000 Census. Who knows where Mostert got her 1.4-million figure?

Second, $2.3 billion divided by 2.1 million people is $1,095 per person per year. As many commentators have noted, that's less than the amount spent on health care for federal prisoners. It's probably less than the amount spent on health care for some cats and dogs.

Third, most Americans get "free socialized medicine" in the form of government- or employer-backed insurance programs. If it's good enough for most Americans, why wouldn't it be good enough for Indians?

Free healthcare causes disease?!
>> The two top medical problems for Indians are alcoholism and diabetes which I seriously doubt afflicted their ancestors when they were chasing game on horseback to feed their families. <<

Good guess, big brain. Now figure out why that is. Is it because "free socialized medicine" causes alcoholism and diabetes? Or could it be because oppression and poverty cause them?

>> The discussion at the Democratic National Convention, which has centered on over-indulged and whining "minority" groups such as Indians, blacks, and women, has been a pathetic exercise to rewrite our memories by a group of aging baby boomers. <<

Mostert hasn't given a single example of "whining" by any minority group. She's the only one whining here.

And why put the word "minority" in quotes? Is Mostert arguing that blacks and Indians aren't minorities anymore? Have they finally taken over, as white supremacists have long predicted?!

>> In 1969 was John Kerry part of a noble band of heroes he now wants us to believe or a member the group he described in 1971 to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee <<

This is a complete non sequitur and irrelevant to Mostert's argument against Indians. Needless to say, as a debater, Mostert makes a good mathematician. As a mathematician, Mostert makes a good fence post. Etc.

>> One of these stories is a lie. Do we really need another accomplished Democrat liar in the White House so soon after Clinton? <<

No, not when we have such an accomplished Republican liar in office already.

Mostert's whole screed against Indians is basically a lie. Judge her opinions about Kerry accordingly.

The "Indians not taxed" clause
Below are excerpts from some "Indian websites" that Mary Mostert evidently missed. She should've perused these sites before opening her mouth and proving her ignorance:

Excluding Indians Not Taxed: Federal Censuses and Native-Americans in the 19th Century

Even the constitutional mandate, "excluding Indians not-taxed," while at first seeming clear enough, in retrospect presents ambiguities. The historical background of the phrase is complex and its meaning and impact changed over the first eleven U.S. censuses.

*****

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What about the provision in the Constitution that refers to "Indians not Taxed"?

The clause "Indians not taxed" appears in the section of the Constitution that describes how representatives are elected to Congress. The Constitution requires each state, when it counts its citizens for purposes of congressional apportionment, to exclude "Indians not taxed." this is because at the time the Constitution was written indians were not citizens. It does not confer any immunity from taxation. In fact now Indians are citizens and are taxed by the federal government and therefore they are counted even for this purpose.

*****

Encyclopedia of North American Indians: Voting

Other states, such as Idaho, New Mexico, and Washington, disenfranchised the Indian by inserting provisions into their constitutions that disqualified from the polls all "Indians not taxed." These states apparently subscribed to the notion that Indians should not be entitled to full and equal participation in the political community since they did not contribute to the fiscal well-being of the state. This argument seems disingenuous at best, however, considering the fact that whites not taxed were allowed to vote and that Native Americans, though generally exempt from paying taxes on tribal property, frequently paid sales taxes, licensing fees, and other levies.

*****

Golden Hill History and Hopes for the Future

The source of confusion about Indians and taxes may stem from the phrase "Indians not taxed" in Article I,S2,c1.3 of the United States Constitution. That phrase is often misunderstood as a grant of recognition of an exemption from taxes. It is not. Rather, it is a reference to the status of Indians in 1789. It directed that Indians, who were not taxed, were not to be counted when establishing the population of a state for the purpose of allocating seats in the House of Representatives.

Circumstances have changed greatly since 1789. Today there are no "Indians not taxed." In 1961, the Supreme Court, in Squire v. Capoeman, noted that "in ordinary affairs of life, not governed by treaties or remedial legislation" Indians are subject to taxation.

In sum, "in ordinary affairs of life" Indian pay taxes as other citizens do. Moreover, non-Indians on a reservation pay the same state taxes they ordinarily would pay off a reservation.

Case closed, Mary. Better luck next time. I suggest you stick to your fantasies about online polls. As an Indian law expert, you're a washout.

Related links
The essential facts about Indians today
The facts about tribal sovereignty
The facts about Indian gaming


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