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Gorton Sounds Buglecall
of Racism & Hatred

Sen. Slade Gorton's 20-plus year war with Indians has taken on a new frenzy as the aging senator, under fire from his own political party, continues to use "Americanism" to whip up racist flames. Reminiscent of the agenda and attitudes of Col. John Chivington and the racist hatred that spawned the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, Gorton's political attack on Indians is finally showing its real agenda: spawning hatred and racism.

The Republican senator from Washington is skilled at wrapping his racism and real intentions beneath an American flag, substituting bumper-stick jargon for truth. In fact, the "American Indian Equal Justice Act" is not about justice, anymore than Chivington's massacre of hundreds of peaceful villagers was about "justice."

This excellent article from the Tacoma News-Tribune clearly shows the endgame of Gorton's onslaught. It is posted here under these terms:

"NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, material appearing here is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for research and educational purposes.""

"Officially, it was a field hearing of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Indian Affairs.

But at times, Tuesday's gathering in Tukwila more closely resembled a circus.

About 600 people showed up to present views on U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton's controversial proposal to do away with tribal sovereign immunity - the federal policy that protects American Indian tribes from civil lawsuits.

For Northwesterners, the opportunity was a rare one.

Committee members in attendance included not only Gorton, whose strong views on tribal rights have made him the congressional antichrist to many American Indians, but also Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Colorado's Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the Senate's most outspoken tribal supporters.

The crowd, twice as large as expected, jammed the meeting room and spilled out into the lobby of the Doubletree Inn, eventually forcing hotel managers to expand the meeting into additional space.

Tribal representatives from as far away as New Mexico and Minnesota - many in traditional feather-and-bead costumes - banged drums and chanted in unison. The pungent smell of burning sage drifted through the hotel.

Meanwhile, non-Indians harmed by recent legal developments on tribal shellfish and hunting rights, cigarette taxation and land-use jurisdiction waved signs and shouted.

In the hallways, Indians and non-Indians openly insulted one another, exchanged racial epithets and in several cases came close to violence.

When American Indians brought their drumming and chanting into the hearing room, those in Gorton's camp rose to their feet and drowned them out with loud renditions of the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Sen. Campbell, the committee chairman, gaveled down the noise and sternly warned that the meeting would end if the disturbance continued.

Tuesday's hearing was the committee's second on Gorton's American Indian Equal Justice Act, his proposal to open tribes to lawsuit. Currently, tribes cannot be sued in state or federal court unless they give their consent.

Gorton said opening the tribes to civil lawsuits - for which he has little apparent support in Congress - would force tribal governments to take responsibility for their actions, ensure equal application of laws and force tribes to pay state taxes that many now refuse to pay.

"Sovereign immunity is an anachronism," Gorton said. "It's not an Indian doctrine, it's an English doctrine, based on the idea that 'the king can do no wrong.' It has been progressively abandoned in every governmental sphere - expect tribes."

Tribal officials, on the other hand, say if Gorton's proposal became law, the cost of legal defense would destroy tribes' ability to act as governments. The Equal Justice Act is really a veiled attempt to do away with tribes altogether, many Indians believe.

"It puts tribes' assets at risk," Henry Cagey, chairman of Washington's Lummi Nation, told Gorton. "It puts the tribal future at risk. There has to be a better solution to deal with conflict. This bill does not do this. It is bad legislation."

Washington's former governor Dan Evans also testified against the legislation, calling it "a blunt instrument whose effect would be to ravage tribal independence at a time when, finally, after more than a century, tribes have been given the opportunity to create modern independent governments, including responsible court systems."

Susan Williams, an attorney whose Albuquerque, N.M., firm represents 15 tribes, told the committee the law is unnecessary. The trend among tribes in the past 10 years, Williams said, is to voluntarily limit immunity - especially in business dealings with private investors.

There are problems, she said, but they are not widespread or consistent around the country.

"This proposed legislation is a blunderbuss when in fact what we need is a surgeon's knife," Williams said.

Opponents of the Muckleshoot Tribe's amphitheater on the Enumclaw Plateau near Auburn took Tuesday's opportunity to draw national attention to the tribe's controversial development plan.

King County Councilman Chris Vance testified in favor of Gorton's bill, saying it would have kept the amphitheater from being built.

"If the tribes continue to refuse to voluntarily respect the rights of their neighbors, then those citizens need to be allowed to go to court in order to protect themselves," Vance said. The committee has scheduled a third and final field hearing on the proposed law for Thursday in Minnesota. ".

The News-Tribune writer, Rob Carson, did a good job of showing the actual outcome of Gorton's political attacks. The hatred Gorton spawns under the guise of "fairness" and "the American way" is an old racist ploy to engage people's mob actions while lulling their ability to think critically and independently. Gorton clearly longs for the "wild west" days of clarion calls and cannons; not having those at his disposal as Chivington did, Gorton substitutes bumper sticker politics for truth, justice and conscience.

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