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Treaties with tribes are the supreme law of the land

Mar 8, 2012 - Diana Mitchell, Riverton

Editor:

I am responding to the letter "Government should not try to mix oil and water in law." People living on or near reservations should know about reservation history and tribal culture.

Mr. Gene Gustin states that this country's legislatures take an oath to uphold and obey the United States Constitution, and not to violate that pledge. But for over 200 years officials have violated that pledge by not recognizing tribal sovereignty.

The U.S. Constitution recognized Indian tribes as sovereign entities within the United States. The tribes are the original "possessors" of the land. The Constitution says that the "treaties" are the supreme law of the land.

The treaties provided protection by the U.S. government for the Shoshone Tribe. The government (BIA) had to protect the Shoshones land and resources from being taken by non-Indians., or other Indians coming onto our homelands. And in my opinion, BIA has done a rather poor job protecting the Shoshone people's resources.

The Crimes Act in 1885 was passed because of crime coming onto reservations and state lands, so the government was mixing oil and water then.

The Indian Police were created in 1849, to serve Indian people, so the Police would be sensitive to Indian culture and traditions. The government has never funded the Indian Police adequately throughout history. Congress kept cutting back necessary funding for the Indian police force. There never has been enough police presence for the 3 million plus acres of the reservation throughout the history of the reservation.

The treaties of 1863 and 1868 were made solely for the benefit of the Shoshone people. The treaties recognized Shoshones' right to hunt, to have land, a home, and be prosperous. Instead, our Shoshone people have become "andless" Indians, and non-Indians are moving onto our reservation, and tribal members are in poverty. For once in the history of this country, honor Indian treaties. They are the supreme law of the land.

If the treaties were honored in the first place, the Indian people would not be impoverished and in despair. Indian people should have a right to have the American dream in their own country.

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