Proposal would repeal US laws that hurt Native Americans
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Leaders of Oklahoma-based Native American tribes are praising a proposal to repeal unenforced federal laws that discriminate against Native Americans.
Legislation sponsored by members of Congress from Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota would repeal discriminatory policies toward Native Americans still written in federal law, The Oklahoman reported .
“Though no longer enforced, these laws are a painful reminder of the past suffering and poor treatment experienced by Native Americans,” said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, a co-sponsor of the measure and a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Among laws the measure would repeal is one that allows for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools and subject Native Americans to forced labor.
Another of the measure’s co-sponsors, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, said it “ensures that we acknowledge and work to solve some of our nation’s previous belittling of Native Americans through our laws.”
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said the proposal will help “provide a foundation of mutual respect and understanding for our government-to-government relationship, which is vital as we work together for the benefit of everyone concerned.”
Kim Teehee, vice president of government relations for the Cherokee Nation, said the tribe supports efforts to repeal laws viewed as hostile toward American Indians.
“In the modern world where we strive to embrace tolerance and understanding, there is no room for these relics of the past that promote misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmas of federally recognized tribes,” Teehee said.
South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and Representative Dusty Johnson were among the bipartisan, bicameral sponsors of the bill.
“The idea that these laws were ever even considered is disturbing,” said Rounds. “While no longer enforced, the fact that they are still on the books is a tragic reminder of past hostility and racism displayed toward Native Americans. We may not be able to rewrite the past, but we can continue to work toward furthering respect and unity for future generations. Passing our legislation is but one way to show understanding and progress. I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort and look forward to advancing it in both chambers of Congress.”