To everything there is a season. When that season is long past, it’s time to clean house and mend fences.
That’s the thinking behind proposed legislation that revokes certain obsolete laws relating to Native Americans. The bill to repeal particular laws is sponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, chaired by Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakora, passed the bill at its meeting July 17.
“S. 2071 would repeal 11 laws relating to Indians that are considered obsolete, have not been enforced by the federal government for several decades and are inconsistent with federal policy,” said Hoeven. “This bill is intended to help mend relations and further respect the relationship between federal and tribal governments.”
The bill will now move to the Senate floor for consideration.
“Tribal communities in Arizona deserve to be treated with dignity by the federal government. By repealing these outdated and shameful laws, we can help ensure Native American communities achieve the equality and respect they deserve,” said Sinema.
Closer inspection of the laws in question reveals dated thinking and what many would view as extreme prejudice. One of the statutes the bill repeals allows for the forcible relocation of Native American children to boarding schools. Unfortunately, starting in 1891, Native American students were brought from across Arizona and surrounding states to the Phoenix Indian School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs-run school, for the misguided purposes of trying to get Native American students to “assimilate into mainstream culture.” While laws relating to forcible relocation of Native American children to boarding schools are not enforced, they are a sad reminder of the hostile aggression and overt racism displayed by the federal government toward Native Americans.