Making Sure the Indian Tribes Are on OUR Side in the War Against al-Qaeda

By David North on July 12, 2012

The cliche is that generals are always fighting the last war.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is doing exactly that, a couple of centuries later after the war.

As some history buffs recall, American Indian tribes were not on our side in the French and Indian War, or in the American Revolution, or in the War of 1812. Most of them sided with the French in the first one, and with the British in the second and third.

The tribes were, of course, the original restrictionists, and you cannot blame their policy positions of the time. While the French and the British were also alien imperialists, they were distant ones, while American settlers were busy right on the scene chasing the Indians off their historic lands, cutting down the forests, and generally messing with life. Besides, the Brits and the French offered generous subsidies.

For those of us who favored the Union in the Civil War, there was a similar scene during that conflict. The slave-owning tribes of Oklahoma sided with the Confederacy and the Southern politicians were shrewd enough to see to it that the tribes had two seats, but no votes, in the Confederate House of Representatives, an offer not matched by the Northerners, then or since.

Fast forward to the present, and we find that DHS is spending millions every year to prevent a re-occurrence of any unpleasant tribal hostility toward us in our current war with the late Osama bin Laden's followers, the vast majority of whom must thread the migration needle in order to enter the country.

This is the fifth consecutive year that DHS has issued a whole series of grants to "prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from potential terrorist attacks" to some Indian tribes.

Hopefully these funds will help prevent al-Qaeda from attacking such strategic targets as the main office of the Houlton (Me.) Band of Maliseet Indians, or anything on the desperately poor Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota.

To be fair, the distributions of these funds go to some equally unlikely, non-Indian, non-targets, like the U.S. Virgin Islands and small towns spread all over America. A coldly rational distribution of anti-terrorist funds to local governments would focus almost exclusively on big cities and big hunks of infrastructure, such as the Golden Gate Bridge or oil refineries in and near Newark, N.J., and Houston, Tex.

But when it comes to spreading around any federal funds to local governments, politics takes over and farming towns, the island territories, and Indian tribes all get some of the money, needed or not.

The tribal grants were at the $6 million level last year and again this year, according to a DHS/FEMA announcement. Among the recipients are the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, a group with land near the Texas port of entry of the same name, just downstream from El Paso, and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. The latter tribe was the last one engaged in war with the palefaces in the Pacific Northwest, a conflict that ended back in 1877, when the skillful Chief Joseph came within 30 miles of his goal, the Canadian border, with his 300 warriors being chased by 5,000 federal troops. In addition to the four tribes I have named, 18 others were given similar funding.

In addition to these funds, DHS has also granted two tribes the right to issue a federally recognized, passport-type document called an Enhanced Tribal Card to their members; the tribes with this authority are the Pascua Yaquis of Arizona, and the Kootenai of Idaho.

Other special DHS-sanctioned ID documentation is available for the Kickapoos, a tribe that has members in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico. While these arrangements are not comparable to a seat in Congress, they are friendly gestures.

This time, in the War on Terror, one trusts that the tribes favored by DHS, as well as all the others, are safely on our side.