Federally recognized tribes should brace for possible termination policy under Trump

Whether we like it or not, Saglutupiaġataq (“the compulsive liar” in Iñupiatun) is now president of the United States and Republicans control Congress. Federally recognized Alaska Native and American Indian tribes should brace for the worst, including the possibility that Congress may move to terminate federally recognized tribes.

The termination era of 1953 to 1968 involved Congress stripping tribes of their lands and criminal jurisdiction. The policy was thinly disguised as an attempt to lift American Indians and Alaska Natives out of poverty by assimilating them into mainstream society. However the real goal was to privatize and ransack American Indian and Alaska Native lands.

From the American Indian Relief Council:

From 1953-1964 109 tribes were terminated and federal responsibility and jurisdiction was turned over to state governments. Approximately 2,500,000 acres of trust land was removed from protected status and 12,000 Native Americans lost tribal affiliation. The lands were sold to non-Indians the tribes lost official recognition by the U.S. government….Public Law 280 which was passed in 1953 turned power over to state governments to enforce most of the regular criminal laws on reservations as they were doing in other parts of the state.

Saglutupiaġataq’s administration apparently began mobilizing to pursue the privatization of Indian lands as early as October 2016 with the formation of his 27 member Native American Affairs Coalition. The Coalition is chaired by “Cherokee” pretendian Rep. Markwayne Mullin. Like the termination policy of more than 60 years ago, the Coalition contends that impoverished tribes are saddled by federal regulations that stymie self-reliance and prosperity. Tribal lands should be privatized, it argues, so that American Indians can pursue development projects that lift them out of poverty.

Saglutupiaġataq has tapped Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke for secretary of the Interior, the federal agency overseeing the Borough of Indian Affairs. Zinke is a known fraudster with little integrity. Scientific American characterizes Zinke as a “mixed bag” with an anti-environment, pro-industry voting record. It is unlikely that he will be a friend to Indian Country or to Alaska Natives.

American Indian trust lands

American Indian trust lands

Some estimate that American Indian lands held in trust by the federal government hold as much as one fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with significant coal reserves. Saglutupiaġataq released his “America first” energy plan hours after being sworn into office. It states the following:

Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.

American Indian reservations are federally owned lands held “in trust” for tribes. The “vast untapped domestic energy reserves” referred to in Saglutupiaġataq’s energy plan are largely within American Indian reservations. These lands would need to be sold or leased to private sector corporations by the federal government in order for development to proceed. But first, tribal jurisdiction over those lands would need to be terminated by Congress and vested in states.

The termination era of 1953 to 1968 shows us that tribal lands and thus tribal governments, peoples, and cultures remain vulnerable to the whims of Congress. There is a strong possibility that American Indians may soon be fighting against a renewed and calculated assault on their political, cultural and spiritual existence.



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72 responses to “Federally recognized tribes should brace for possible termination policy under Trump

  1. Lael White

    Speaking of coalitions that could encourage resource utilization by tribes on tribal land, versus pipelines etc ploughing through native land and other magnificent and sacred land: Have any of you heard of the organization Backbone Campaign? Political climate might not be favorable now, but ckeck it out, their book, Solutionary Rail. Using the existing rail routes and electrifying them with a variety of renewable energy sources that could supply jobs in infrastructure and money and energy for communities along the rail route. They want to start with the northern corridore… Seattle to Chicago…It is a great idea, has been done before, is being done in europe, would require a huge investment and prior further study, but would steer us away from fossil fuels and land degradation, and develop better transportation at same time. Trump talking about infrastructure, jobs, is all about fossil fuel industry carving out our lands for their profits. This continuing activity will kill us all, along with many creatures, our waters, our earth. Backbone Campaign. We stand with Standing Rock and against Kinder Morgan, XL pipe and all other big oil projects that are pillaging the earth for profits to the hands of the very few already hideously wealthy.

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  3. Whanga

    First Natives lived on the land before the English men found it. It was nothing but native culture. Im an Alaskan Native. Why is “Tramp” trying to do this? For what reason? What did we Natives do wrong to him? Absolutely nothing. And this is what we get? Pathetic fake ### President! No one deserves any of this!

    • Lael White

      He cares for none of us. He has also been described as having “malignant narcissism”. Not unlike other horrible leaders past and current. We must fight. But they have the upper hand so be careful.

  4. I can’t help but worry how far the new administration will go to pursue their riches! After all this is the reason we were colonized in the first place!

  5. Wolf Froit

    This is so wrong on so many levels and a crime on so many levels! A blagent attack on the native American tribes and people in in general!

  6. Tom

    So, let me get this, youre saying Trump , while RUNNING for office, formed a Native American Affairs Coa . in October of 2016…I dont think so !

  7. Maia Mikhaili

    I shudder to think about this, but you know someone in the government has and is thinking about this.

    Trump said he was “willing to renegotiate these ( Keystone Pipline and DAPL) on our terms.”

  8. We must stand with the Native Americans to protect their land and their rights. I am utterly ashamed and disgusted at the lack of regard for the people who were disenfranchised then and now.

  9. LH

    What can concerned citizens of this country do to support our friends in the Native American communities? Please point people like me in the right direction. I want to stay informed and provide assistance.

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  11. Clint sinclair

    As a native who has fought to prove my and my sons heritage for most of our lives I think we as natives should look at this objectively . No it don’t seem trump is supporting our natives by stopping the pipeline . However we have legal rights . I trust in our legal system to protect us. I trust our elders and councils to fight for us . The road may not be easy but we will win this . We can expect the worst and hope for the best . We are native . We do t quit .

    • Gabriel

      Clint, Lets be real a bit here. Fight what? Did you physically have to fight to be who you are? or “Prove” to be Native? for what? so you can get paid? or did you mean “We must fight for our Land!” .. You mean the already allotted land the United States Government gave to the native people because they chose to? LOL ..gimme a break.. and you can drop the “This was my land first” speech.. You physically were not here at that time, we are all here now celebrating our heritage in our own way and working our asses off working to make a better life for ourselves just like everyone else..
      On a separate note, I have met a lot of great Natives, Native families, extended native families, have a beautiful Native partner in life and I cant help but notice… What kind of “Heritage” is there to hold onto? I mean, i know every native I have met is REAL PROUD to be native and have “Their land” and ancestors. (Don’t we all have ancestors though?) but what beyond that? ..What, appreciate nature from the confines of your government allotted trailer while watching HBO from your cell phone? Then jumping out in your newest used vehicle that works to the nearest gas station to grab some Fry Bread? All I see on every “Rez” is an abundance of impoverished homes/ trailer homes with loads of broken down cars and junk where family teases and fights each other from time to time (that’s because they “care”) while teens are being young mothers. The real life culture on the rez is not encouraging for true growth at all. I ask what they do for a living and its always “between Jobs” (aka, collecting the gov check) or they work at the local casino or the next best labor job that is available.. or my favorite is the go “Make a Raise” real quick.
      I always get the feeling of a lack of drive they have to really do anything with their lives or grow outside their comfort zone. And don’t want forget about the native “Justice system” which entitles some tribes to have their own court system which is a joke mostly. I have personally seen an abundance of pedophiles get away with doing what they do best without any real punishment along with any accountability for their behavior because they are “Native”.
      I know the Elders of Native tribes do remember a time without the “white man” and had a way of life, but let’s face it, the millennials and the newer Snowflake generations overall don’t care as much about the past compared to what is going on Facebook, TV and their lives, that will never change, just them becoming more “American” as anyone.

      I am all for Natives celebrating their heritage just like everyone else’s gatherings and dances that mean something but it seems it has been taken advantage of and it is just a pass for free money to help sit on their ass do nothing to contribute to the larger current society. Who knows, maybe forcing personal accountability to be a part of a “Nation of Immigrants” and learning to take care of oneself and family will actually bring real pride and integrity back into the native community.

      • Dee Mooney

        Dear “Gabriel”. You forgot to add:
        “Native American Culture and History: Overrated! Sad!”
        Fixed it for you.

      • Val

        Unfortunately I don’t have time to extensively comment right now Gabriel. You hateful, disrespectful, and ignorant generalizations about a diverse peoples disguists and enrages me. You have been poisoned with colonizer mentality. I hope someone else has the time to write a rebuttal.

        • Gabriel

          I knew my reply would enrage, but l like to really think about things before I jump on the band wagon. I hope someone can provide real information on more than just “the right for land” to justify the real behavior of a lot of the culture now. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees this and will say anything… of course what I’m saying is not PC and is not openly talked about because that would be “disgraceful” to a proud people.

          ..do you have any real experience and information that would refute my statements about contributing to current society more than taking from it?

    • Jake Germaan

      Clint, as an attorney licensed to practice in various tribal courts and with a fairly thorough knowledge of Indian law, Congress has plenary power to do exactly what the author fears. They hold Indian Country in trust and may strip it from natives if they like. An awful truth, and one that should be fought hard.

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  13. jerry Thomas El

    You have an opportunity. You have the opportunity to tell the truth before the Stars realign and make truth be known. African Americans the so-called Blacks are aborigine. Our presence has always been known from the beginning of civilization on the North and South American continents. Only the truth can restore order as we operate under a fictitious government. you have an opportunity to have a seat at the table. Repent

    • I never saw any black people in photos of Wounded Knee or at the last Wounded Knee either. I never saw any in the history books with the tribes. The only ones around were the freedmen who were slaves before the Treaty of 1866 made them tribal members.

  14. Julie Trowbridge

    We would be wiping out more native peoples. This should not be allowed

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  16. Michael Dennis Trerotola

    I believe that we cannot afford to behave like scared children with our fingers in our ears whistling in the dark in order to avoid a possible dark and scary reality. We are ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE. What negatively affects some of us will eventually affect Us ALL, it is our responsibility to KNOW.

  17. Brenda Aubrey

    I just have a question about the meanings “In god we trust” which is printed on every dollar and our indegenious lands being put “in trust” .

  18. as the author of a major study of the termination policy I do not believe that this is likely since it would require Democratic support in the Senate and since it was such a proven disaster when it was tried. But I think that many bad things and large program cuts are coming and that it is very important for native communities to get organized and strongly contact their members of Congress because it is a dreadful administration taking shape and their tax cuts and military expenditures are going to require drastic changes in many programs including Medicaid.

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  20. Danielle Sanchez

    I will fight till i can not fight anymore!!! We are apart of the Land. We belong to it! It is in our blood. We must be ready for when the time comes! I will not go down softly into the night I will scream loudly for all to hear!!!

  21. Anita Mills

    Why of all the people on this earth are the ingenious people the most taken advantage of? Why are they always stolen from, lied to, abused by the law, and treated like non human. I am Native American 100% at heart. I am sick of how they are being treated. I really wish my voice counted. I want to help somehow. I pray for them everyday.

    • Because Native people’s pose the most threat. Your continued existence is an HOURLY reminder of the historical lack of honor in US government policy. Every single word spoken in resistance is another nail in the coffin of White Supremacy. Plus in their IGNORANCE the oppressor marched many native nations into the very lands that hold the minerals and fuels that now feed the economy. This is YOUR country. This is YOUR land. Fight. For. It.

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  23. Dan Evans

    You disqualify yourself from any serious consideration as a writer when you start your article with calling the new president ‘compulsive liar’….You my indigenous sweet pee are nothing more than a person of hate and filled with bullsh*t. Next time you feel like being a turd, please just go lie down in your yard!

  24. Look at his history with people of color and especially us over the casinos and you have to ask yourself could this possibly be true? You non believers must be a special kind of stupid then. Thank you shichills for the links.

  25. Jasp

    I don`t feel that donald cares what happens to anybody . He only cares if he get his way . I wish we could ask all the people that have done business with him and lost and see how the story went down .

  26. Richard Butler

    Obama did not stop the pipeline through Native American land. Trump is Obama just whiter.

    • Tasha Lallaman

      Obama did his best while he was in office and spread himself thin! To compare him to scum as Trump is an insult and you deserve to live in this country with him as president. Howah!

  27. People should read “And Still The Waters Run” by Angie Debo

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  29. Daulton Bassett

    So I was wondering how true this was and if so will the per cap and trust fund money from Indian reservation stop going out to natives and be taken away. Because we are supposed to be receiving trust fund from the reservation in April, will it stop us from getting the money? Kinda worried…

  30. Patrick S Marsden

    Unified tribes of America; Classaction suit.

  31. Sherry Peek

    I wish President would do something to help support the various tribes.
    Being Cherokee & Choctaw Indian myself, it would be the most gracious act he could do for the people of the land.
    The original Americans. They’ve had so much stripped from them.
    In addition help save the buffalo. Buffalo produce more meat that a cow. If raised for food,it would be a great addition to feeding America

  32. Robert

    Pathetic fear mongering…
    Trump is not after Tribal Lands.

  33. Delores Pitzer

    This is wrong. Do not take the property the Native Americans live on. Mr. President, Congress and Senate you are wrong to do such a thing
    God Bless America and God Bless our Native Americans.

  34. Sis Peone

    Where’s the proof that trump may do away with tribes? Is this fact or ASSumption?

  35. This is a bunch of BS and you know it Rex. You are trying to instill fear and division where there is none. All the may happen and could be in your article in an attempt to create issues that don’t exist is preposterous.. Your an issue creating problem maker, when you should be a foreword thinking problem solver. You are a disgrace to the Native people of Alaska. Go do something positive.

  36. Gene Hill

    It’s just further evidence that there are sycophants who latched on and are influencing all these bad policy decisions.

  37. Dana Romm

    of course it is possible. a great many awful things are possible. but i will not be afraid of all possible things. that would sap me of strength to no purpose. i will be strong and unafraid and prepare as much as one can with joy. every day with strength and joy we greet a new day and do all the good work we can do.

  38. We should take back the whole America cause you stole everything from the Native, shame on you all.

  39. Trump should try and he will spark a national protest, which may even impeach him! Remember, Native Americans are protected and mentioned in the US constitution and he better respect and honor our thousands of years existence.

  40. Frank Little

    para-phrasing Wade Davis’ The Wayfinders: Why Ancient (Indigenous) Wisdom Matters in Our Modern World:
    We are all literally Brothers and Sisters with the same genetic cloth, Cultures are a matter of choice and orientation, adaptive insights and priorities. Our relationship to our Earth, with cooperative understandings and behaviors of both modern and ancient knowledge is the wise path…

  41. Rex A Okakok Sr


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