December 21, 2014

Around the Campfire: Indian Hate Groups

L. Frank Baum, who became famous as the author of The Wizard of Oz, earlier had a career as a pioneering newspaperman in South Dakota. He wrote in the 1890s:

The PIONEER has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination (sic) of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.

In the 1970s, following a decade of Indian activism that started with the fish-ins in Washington, the Mohawk land occupations in New York and Canada, the formation of the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC), and the occupation of Alcatraz, anti-Indian “white backlash” groups started to form.

In Washington State they were a reaction to the 1974 Boldt decision that stated Indians were entitled to half the runs of steelhead and salmon as guaranteed in the 1854 treaties. Whites who had bought land on reservations also protested having tribal governments exercise jurisdiction over them. In Montana, they formed around protests of tribes exercising jurisdiction over rangelands. Many of the hate groups also advocate for the complete revoking of all treaties with Indian tribes. They also resent the rights Indians reserved through treaties to hunt and fish on reservation lands and other public lands.

They maintain that the white race is superior to Indian tribes or Indian individuals. Labeling themselves as “citizen’s rights” organizations, these groups barely conceal their hate for Indians in general and their scorn and derision for tribal councils. One of their main planks is trying to assert that they are not subject to the jurisdictions of tribes—even though their property may be in the middle of an Indian reservation.

They maintain that tribes have no jurisdiction beyond the members of their own tribe. They have won some major battles on that issue in the past half-century. Tribes no longer have criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians living on reservations.

A decade later, these groups were still organized and had expanded to more states. They are now located in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

They are made up mainly of people who own property or businesses on Indian reservations and small farmers with land on reservations. They later attracted a substantial number of right-wing professional haters as members. Some people compare the groups to the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations, and the Skinheads in their ideology and tactics.

The adoption by President Rutherford B. Hayes of the concept of “Manifest Destiny” led to the movement of the U.S. to claim all the land between Canada and Mexico, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, for the U.S. This led to the passage in 1887 of the General Allotment Act. Senator Dawes of Massachusetts was the sponsor of the legislation, which detractors denounced as just another way to get to the last Indian land. Despite opposition, the legislation passed, and the Dawes Commission carried out the Indian land giveaway over the next five decades. Indian tribes, of course, were not consulted about the General Allotment Act.

As a result of Allotment, almost all Indian reservations today are “checkerboarded.” Indian property is next to non-Indian property, which lies next to tribal property, which lies next to Forest Service lands, and so on. The small Navajo reservation at Ramah southeast of Gallup has seven different kinds of land on it.

Under the General Allotment Act, two-thirds of the 150 million acres of Indian lands were lost to the tribes. They were left with 50 million acres, which has slowly been added to in the past 50 years. Kickingbird (1973) documented the history of this illegal selling of reservation lands.

Most of the Indian lands were in isolated areas; some of them were deserts. However, there are also Indian lands that are prime agricultural acreage. Others are prime timber acreage, and still others have petroleum, coal, oil, gas, uranium, and other minerals. It is ironic that the Indian tribes now own about 25% of all the energy producing lands in the United States, which are found mostly on poor lands.

There are now more non-Indians living on Indian lands than there are Indians. Many of them are third or fourth generation ranchers and farmers. They either own the land outright, or they have 99-year leases on it. The second-largest group is absentee landowners who use the property as vacation homes. The third-largest constituent of the groups is sport and commercial fishermen.

The leading Indian hate group these days is the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA). Dave Lundgren, an attorney, calls them the Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country. Its sister organization is the Citizens Equal Rights Foundation (CERF). In 2002 CERA held a Mother’s Day conference in Washington called “Confronting Federal Indian Policy.” CERF at about the same time filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in U. S. v. Lara calling for the Court to find that Congress has no power to recognize the inherent powers of tribes.

Both CERA and CERF are made up of white owners of Indian reservation lands. The CERF and CERA members are the third and fourth generation descendants of the people who profited from acquiring Indian lands. What alarms them these days is that tribes are re-acquiring some of these lands in order to build an economic base for their people again. The hate groups can’t stand the idea that Indians would get some land back, no matter how it happens.

Larry Kibbey lists the following anti-Indian groups on his Web site:

U.S. Farm Bureau, National

All Citizens Equal (ACE), Montana

East Slope Taxpayers Association, Montana

People for the West, National

North Dakota Committee for Equality

Equal Rights for Everyone, Wisconsin

Citizens Rights Organization, Montana

Cheyenne River Landowners Association, South Dakota

Concerned Citizens Council, Nebraska

Equal Rights for Everyone, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Alliance for Rights and Resources (WARR)

Trout Unlimited, National

Protect Americans Rights and Resources (PARR), Wisconsin

National Wildlife Association

Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, National

International Association of Fish and Wildlife

Interstate Congress for Equal Rights and Responsibilities (ICERR)

Steelhead/Salmon Protective Association and Wildlife Network (S/SPAWN)

Western States Coalition.

Rudy Ryser says the total Indian hate group list now has more than 50 organizations on it. They claim to have 500,000 members, but Ryser puts their active membership at 10,850. The number of people who give money or write support letters he puts at 34,150, which is a potential force. They are still trying to eliminate reservations, outlaw tribal governments, and declare an end to the “Indian problem.”

These hate groups will be the next wave of people who will try to terminate all Indian treaties. It has happened before, and it will happen again.



Dr. Dean Chavers is Director of Catching the Dream, a national scholarship and school improvement organization in Albuquerque. His e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The CTD website is www.catchingthedream.org. High school seniors should send him an e-mail for help finding scholarships. This column is adapted from his book “Racism in Indian Country,” published by Peter Lang.

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