Buried Our Honor at Wounded Knee
(Photo above Library of Congress, mass grave of Lakota victims the Massacre at Wounded Knee, SD, 1891)
It seems as if the GOP has a big problem, lately, with party operatives blurting out their unedited, pent up feelings, (which are disproportionally ugly, uncivil feelings) not conducive to keeping their hidden agendae hidden.
In fallout from one such event, Progress Now New Mexico has called on Republican National Committee leader, Patrick J. Rogers, to resign after an email came to light in which Rogers told staff members of New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez that meeting with a group of American Indians (a meeting required by law) “dishonored” Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Yes, you heard that right—Gen. Custer of “Custer’s Last Stand” fame.
Rogers’ pissy wordsalad read:
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ.
The state is going to hell. Col [Allen] Weh [Gov. Martinez’ 2010 gubernatorial opponent] would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.
I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist[ricting] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the governor.
I know, I know, this requires some translation (Rogers is a lawyer, after all).
“Quisling” for the uninitiated, is a term used in reference to Nazi collaborators in Axis-occupied countries during World War II. (I wonder who the Nazis are, in Rogers’ mind).
“French surrender monkeys,” sometimes substituted for “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” is a derogatory description of French people which originated on an episode of the Simpsons TV series, in 1995, and became a popular slur in the lead-up to the Iraq War, since France was opposed to military intervention in Iraq. (I guess it’s safe to assume that Rogers deems it a cowardly act to meet with and cooperate with Native Americans).
“Secret supporters (all along) of JAJ”—local color—Janice Arnold-Jones was a four-term Republican representative in the New Mexico House, who, frustrated by backroom deals, brought a webcam to the NM Legislature, and was dubbed “Lady Sunlight” by the newspapers. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOM) awarded her the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award. New Mexico’s only conservative think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation, awarded her the Liberty Award. (Mr Rogers harbors a grudge, evidently, against people who don’t like backroom deals).
Our Mr Rogers happened to be on that very same NMFOG board of directors but resigned after his role in a separate e-mail scandal was investigated. He had been criticized for using personal e-mail accounts to contact state government officials attempting to influence their decision-making—a practice that carries questions under state law.
OK. So, this Rogers guy is currently a big fish, in a New Mexico pond, who is aspiring to greater things. Right now, Mr. Rogers is in Tampa, FL, for the upcoming Republican National Convention, he is a GOP lobbyist and a recently appointed member of the RNC Executive Committee so this “Custer kerfuffle” is particularly inconvenient. See, not everyone in New Mexico (or anywhere else, for that matter) is a Custer fan.
Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, puts it this way:
George Armstrong Custer may be regarded as a kind of military hero by Pat Rogers, but to the Native peoples of America Custer represents the bellicose imperialism that was responsible for the systematic slaughter of American Indians throughout this continent.
Such a blatantly racist statement against our Native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country’s largest corporations is indefensible.
But Native Americans are a giant pain in Mr. Rogers’ butt. Because they’re sitting on things, on their land, and under their sovereignty, that Mr. Rogers, and his party, the GOP, would really like to get their hands on—things like oil, natural gas, uranium, gemstones and a host of other capitalist goodies. As a matter of fact one of the specialties of the Modrall Sperling law firm, of which Rogers is a partner, is Native American Law . . . and environmental law . . . and oil and mining law.
Here’s a description of the Native American Law service that Modrall provides for its clients:
Doing business in “Indian country,” whether on Indian Reservations, on tribal and individual allotted trust lands, or near such lands, presents unique issues and challenges. Those challenges arise from the important role that federal Indian and public land laws and tribal laws play in structuring and permitting development activities in those locales.
Structuring transactions, negotiating effectively and crafting agreements that maximize predictability and enforceability can be elusive in Indian lands transactions.
Effectively doing business in Indian Country requires consideration of the scope and extent of state, federal, and tribal jurisdiction to tax, regulate or resolve disputes, addressing unique challenges for drafting agreements to maximize enforceability in light of the federal Indian law doctrines of tribal sovereign immunity and exhaustion of tribal remedies, and managing specific permitting and environmental compliance requirements.
Where’s Jack Abramoff when you need him . . . ?
And, oh, the cases this outfit has won! why you just have to look at a list of their recent accomplishments to get the “big picture”:
Modrall Sperling has also been involved in some of the key federal Indian law disputes defining the extent of tribal, state, and federal jurisdiction on Indian lands. The firm’s Indian law lawyers have recently been involved in the following cases:
Representing El Paso Natural Gas Company, Modrall Sperling attorneys participated in the briefing that led to the Supreme Court’s ruling that federal courts, rather than tribal courts, should initially decide which court has jurisdiction over claims arising from nuclear incidents. See, El Paso Natural Gas Co. v. Neztsosie, 526 U.S. 473 (1999).
Native American Law
Representing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation as tribal court counsel on appeal in Red Wolf and as amicus curiae in Strate, and the Association of American Railroads in Atkinson Trading and Plains Commerce Bank, Modrall Sperling attorneys were instrumental in decisions defining tribal jurisdiction over non-members. See, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. v. Red Wolf, 196 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2000); Strate v. A-1 Contractors, Inc., 520 U.S. 438 (1997), Atkinson Trading Co. Inc. v. Shirley, 520 U.S. 438 (1997); and Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co., 554 U.S. 316 (2008).
Serving as lead counsel for the Commissioners of the Oklahoma Tax Commission in defense the Osage Nation’s claims seeking a declaration that all of Osage County, Oklahoma remains a reservation and an injunction prohibiting the Commission from collecting Oklahoma state income taxes upon the income of Osage Nation members who both earn income and reside anywhere within the County. A declaration that Osage County remained a reservation would have had profound consequences for civil, criminal, and regulatory jurisdiction in Osage County. The federal district court entered judgment in favor of the Commissioners, ruling that federal statutes terminated the Reservation and that federal law does not preempt Oklahoma’s taxation of the income in dispute. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed unanimously. On the Osage Nation’s petition for certiorari, the United States Supreme Court has requested the United States Solicitor General’s Office for its views of the petition. See, Osage Nation v. Irby, 597 F.3d 1117 (10th Cir. 2010), pet. for certiorari filed, Oct. 22, 2010.
The firm defends Transwestern Pipeline Company and Enterprise Products Partners LP and Mid-America Pipeline Company, LLC, and served as lead counsel for a broader group of defendants, against claims of Navajo Nation tribal members who own allotments (akin to homesteads) in northwestern New Mexico seeking to cancel rights-of-way for pipelines and utility transmission lines that traverse the allotments. The federal district court dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims, holding that the applicable statute of limitations had expired, and that the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies, The plaintiffs have attempted to file over 900 administrative appeals relating to that ruling. See, Begay v. Public Service Company of New Mexico et al., U.S. District Court Cause No. 09-cv-00137-MV-RLP (D.N.M.).
The firm served as special Indian law counsel to Blue Tee Corp. and Gold Fields Mining LLC in defense of claims under the federal Superfund law or CERCLA, together with common law natural resources damages, nuisance, and injunctive relief claims brought by the Quapaw Tribe against successors to mining companies that operated lead and zinc mines in the vicinity of the tribe’s historic reservation. See, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma v. Blue-Tee Co. et al., U.S. District Court Cause No. 03-CV-0846-CVE-PJC (N.D. Okla.).
I suspect that Mr. Rogers et al, would love to see Gen. Custer come back and finish what he started.
See, it was basically the same problem, way back in Custer’s time. After the Civil War ended and the country was overstocked with Generals, the only folks left to fight were the Plains Indian Nations. So Custer took himself off to scout around the Black Hills of South Dakota and one of the things he sniffed out was a vein of gold.
The General wasted no time sharing that news and a Black Hills Gold Rush ensued. The only thing standing between America and its Manifest Destiny were a few indigenous tribes who still believed the Black Hills were their turf. General Custer was dispatched to protect American entrepeneurs, the US government declared no more treaties with Indians (ie, no more peaceful negotiations over land rights) and a genocide was born.
Now, if you think I’m overstating my case, just take a gander at a recent draft of this year’s Republican Party Platform (h/t Politico). The GOP has dedicated a whole section to what they like to call “Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians” and it’s a beaut. What’s that, you say? You never realized that the Republican Party had a soft spot for Native Americans? They don’t.
Keep in mind that Native Americans constitute only 1% of the electorate and most of them are Democrats. Republicans just really hate the fact that there’s swag out there that they can’t get their hands on easily—because bleeding-heart liberals have passed so many laws protecting it—and they’re going to do everything in their power to bulldoze through those obstacles and call it a program to help Native Americans realize self-sufficiency by plundering their lands. Of course, the language is all coded platform-ish BS, but it doesn’t take a great imagination to read between the lines.
Here’s a taste from a draft of the 2012 Republican Party Platform:
Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges confronting Indian Country. We believe that tribal governments and their communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are best situated to craft solutions that will end systemic problems that create poverty and disenfranchisement. Just as the federal government should not burden States with regulations, it should not stifle the development of resources within the reservations.
Don’t resign, Mr Rogers, I have a feeling you’ll fit right in . . .
Categories: Politics •