AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBAL LEADERS
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
March 19, 1993
We, the undersigned representatives of federally recognized
Indian tribes of the United States, attending a meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 19, 1993, wish to clarify some of the current issues surrounding Indian gaming. We are concerned that there is a campaign underway by a few state officials and private gaming interests to amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 in a manner that would be very detrimental to our tribal governments. This campaign is either deliberately or unintentionally spreading a significant amount of misinformation about IGRA and proposes to amend IGRA via a two year moratorium on any new federally approved gaming compacts and other efforts to restrict Indian gaming.
We urge the Members of the House and Senate to resist and oppose any such amendments. We ask your review of this letter so as to inform yourselves when these issues come before you. There are many issues associated with IGRA, but from a tribal perspective the following are key:
Indian tribes are sovereign entities whose rights of self-government have been affirmed time and again for the past 200 years by the highest courts of the land and by the Congress. The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed tribal sovereignty in recognizing tribes' specific right to regulate and operate gaming projects for
tribal governmental purposes in the 1987 Cabazon decision. IGRA's passage in 1988 compromised those governmental rights to the extent that it allowed states, through the compact process, to negotiate a regulatory role in certain forms of tribal gaming. IGRA thus permits tribes to retain the economic benefits of gaming recognized in Cabazon while providing states a government to government opportunity to participate in the regulatory process.
IGRA's grant to the states was opposed by tribes as an intrusion on their sovereignty, but was ultimately accepted as a necessary compromise to meet states' concerns while protecting this important economic resource to tribes. Thus, with the ability to go forward under IGRA's compacting processes, revenues generated by tribal gaming operations have allowed tribes to begin to address and rectify numerous social and economic problems confronting our communities. Gaming revenues are being used by tribes to fund desperately needed health clinics, schools, scholarships, roads, sewer systems, senior citizen programs and day care centers, to mention but a few. Gaming activities on Indian reservations currently provide more than 100,000 jobs in some of the most economically depressed areas of the United States.
Based on the foregoing, we oppose any legislative initiatives designed to impose any moratorium on the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to approve tribal/state compacts; restrict Class III gaming on Indian lands; repeal the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act; and any efforts to diminish tribal opportunities in this area without due deliberation and input by tribes.
In addition, we support the following:
1. Direct dialogue among tribal leaders and state officials
concerning the implementation of IGRA; and
2. Regional hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Native American Affairs Subcommittee concerning the effective implementation of IGRA.
In conclusion, we urge the United States Congress, the greatest deliberative body in the world, to exhibit courage and integrity in dealing fairly with all sides in the complex issues of American Indian gaming.
1. W. Ron Allen Chairman, Jamestown S'Klallam
2. John YellowBird Steele President, Oglala Sioux Tribe
3. Phillip Martin Chief, Mississippi Band of Choctaws
4. Eddie L. Tullis Chairman, Poarch Creek Indians
5. Ronnie Lupe Chairman, White Mtn. Apache
6. Rick Hill Oneida Nation
7. Theodore Smith, Sr. Yavapai-Apache
8. JoAnn Jones Wisconsin Winnebago Chairman
9. Sue M. Shaffer Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Chairman
10. Gilbert B. Jones Fort McDowell Mohave/Apache Community
11. Elwood H. Potawa Chairman, Umatilla Tribes
12. Jackie E. Jansen Cabazon
13. Robert G. Ceder Rincon Band of Mission Indians
14. Robert J.S. (WaWalton) Chairman, Swinomish Tribe
15. David Dominquez Tribal Chairman, Santa Ynez
16. Clive Miller Morongo Band of Mission Indians
17. Harry E.Cooper Chairman, N.G.C. Nooksack Tribe
18. L. John Lfufkins Bay Mills Indian Community
19. Vernon Gastro Table Mountain Rancheria
20. Ervin Funmaker Wisconsin Winnebago
21. Evans Littlegeorge Wisconsin Winnebago
22. Alvin Cloud Wisconsin Winnebago
23. Dan McCoy Eastern Band of Cherokee, N.C.
24. John Petoskey Grand Traverse Band
25. Fred Dakota Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
26. Ron Falcon Saginaw Chippewa
27. Kenneth Meshgand Hannahville Indian Community
28. John McGuard Watersmeet Indian Community
29. Pete Jerry Muckleshoot Tribe
30. Mary Ann Antone Tohono O'Odham
31. Andrew Patricio Tohono O'Odham
32. Willard Pinto Tohono O'Odham
33. Pedro T. Marez Acoma Pueblo
34. James Morsett Chippewa Cree Rocky Boy Mt.
35. Wayne Provitz Keweenaw Bay
36. Gene Joseph Colville Business Council
37. Del Louie Colville Tribal Council
38. Karen Bucktooth Seneca Nation of Indians
39. Perry Hauser, Jr. Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
40. Edward Foreman Redding Rancheria
41. G. Webster Omaha Nation of Nebr. and Iowa
42. Mona Zephair Yankton Sioux Tribe
43. Maxine Rouse Yankton Sioux Tribe
44. Larry Archambeau, Jr. Yankton Sioux Tribe
45. Earl Havatone Hualapai Tribe
46. George BearPaw Cherokee Nation
47. Reginald Pasqual Acoma Governor
48. Gilbert Parada Rincon, California
49. Vernon Mestes Cheyenne River Sioux
50. John Bird San Juan Pueblo
51. Dale Phillips Cocopah Tribe Chairman
52. Marshall McKay Rumsey Rancheria
53. George L. Wahquahboshsuk Prairie Band Potawatomi
54. Lionel Bordeaux Rosebud Sioux
55. J. L. Burgess Eastern Band Cherokee
56. Darryel R. Bill Colusa, Ca.
57. Anthony Pico Viejas Band of Mission Indians
58. Lloyd Wilcox Narrangansett Tribe
59. Bill Whitefeather Red Lake Band of Chippewa
60. Adrian M. Owen Red Lake Band of Chippewa
1. Charles Keechi Chief, Delaware Tribe
62. Kenneth Williams Tohono O'Odham Nation
63. Robert Kenjockety Seneca Nation of Indians
64. Lawrence Ollivisare Narraganset Tribe
65. Victor Koulidines Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
66. Norma Marjano San Manuel, California
67. Marshall McKay Rumsay Rancheria
68. William Schumacher Pres., Flandreau Santee
Sioux Tribe, S.D.
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release April 29, 1994
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments
The United States Government has a unique legal relationship with Native American tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, and court decisions. As executive departments and agencies undertake activities affecting Native American tribal rights or trust resources, such activities should be implemented in a knowledgeable, sensitive manner respectful of tribal sovereignty. Today, as part of an historic meeting, I am outlining principles that executive departments and agencies, including every component bureau and office, are to follow in their interactions with Native American tribal governments.
The purpose of these principles is to clarify our responsibility to ensure that the Federal Government operates within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized Native American tribes. I am strongly committed to building a more effective day-to-day working relationship reflecting respect for the rights of self-government due the sovereign tribal governments. In order to ensure that the rights of sovereign tribal governments are fully respected, executive branch activities shall be guided by the following:
(a) The head of each executive department and agency shall be responsible for ensuring that the department or agency operates within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments.
(b) Each executive department and agency shall consult, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, with tribal governments prior to taking actions that affect federally recognized tribal governments. All such consultations are to be open and candid so that all interested parties may evaluate for themselves the potential impact of relevant proposals.
(c) Each executive department and agency shall assess the impact of Federal Government plans, projects, programs, and activities on tribal trust resources and assure that tribal government rights and concerns are considered during the development of such plans, projects, programs, and activities.
(d) Each executive department and agency shall take appropriate steps to remove any procedural impediments to working directly and effectively with tribal governments on activities that effect the trust property and/or governmental rights of the tribes.
(e) Each executive department and agency shall work cooperatively with other Federal departments and agencies to enlist their interest and support in cooperative efforts, where appropriate, to accomplish the goals of this memorandum.
(f) Each executive department and agency shall apply the requirements of Executive Orders Nos. 12875 ("Enhancing the Intergovernmental Partnership") and 12866 ("Regulatory Planning and Review") to design solutions and tailor Federal programs, in appropriate circumstances, to address specific or unique needs of tribal communities.
The head of each executive department and agency shall ensure that the department or agency's bureaus and components are fully aware of this memorandum, through publication or other means, and that they are in compliance with its requirements.
This memorandum is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and is not intended to, and does not, create any right to administrative or judicial review, or any other right or benefit or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE HOPI MESSAGE TO THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
December 10, 1992
Submitted By Thomas Banyacya, Kykotsmovi, Arizona
The presentation by Mr Thomas Banyacya, the final speaker, was
preceded by three shouts by Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Six Nations, and
first speaker of the day. The shouts were a spiritual announcement to the
Great Spirit of the of the people assembled and the intention to give a
message of spiritual importance.
Thomas then sprinkled corn meal next to the podium of the General
Assembly and made a brief remark in Hopi that translates as follows:
Hopi Spiritual leaders had an ancient prophecy that some day world
leaders would gather in a Great House of Mica with rules and regulations to
solve the world problems without war. I am amazed to see the prophecy has
come true and you are here today! But only a handful of United Nations
Delegates are present to hear the Motee Sinom (Hopi for First People) from
around the world who spoke here today.
My name is Banyacya of the Wolf, Fox and Coyote Clan and I am a
member of the Hopi sovereign nation. Hopi in our language means a
peaceful, kind, gentle, truthful people. The traditional Hopi follows the
spiritual path that was given to us by Massau'u the Great Spirit. We made a
sacred covenant to follow his life plan at all times, which includes the
responsibility of taking care of this land and life for his divine purpose. We
have never made treaties with any foreign nation, including the United
States, but for many centuries we have honored this sacred agreement. Our
goals are not to gain political control, monetary wealth nor military power,
but rather to pray and to promote the welfare of all living beings and to
preserve the world in a natural way. We still have our ancient sacred stone
tablets and spiritual religious societies which are the foundations of the Hopi
way of life. Our history says our white brother should have retained those
same sacred objects and spiritual foundations.
In 1948, all traditional Hopi spiritual leaders met and spoke of things I felt
strongly were of great importance to all people. They selected four
interpreters to carry their message of which I am the only one still living
today. At the time, I was given a sacred prayer feather by the spiritual
leaders. I made a commitment to carry the Hopi message of peace and
deliver warnings from prophesies known since the time the previous world
was destroyed by flood and our ancestors came to this land.
My mission was to open the doors of this Great House of Mica to native
peoples. The Elders said to knock four times and this commitment was
fulfilled when I delivered a letter and the sacred prayer feather I had been
given to John Washburn in the Secretary GeneralUs office in October, 1991. I
am bringing part of the Hopi message to you here today. We have only ten
minutes to speak and time is late so I am making my statement short.
At the meeting in 1948, Hopi leaders 80, 90 and even 100 years old
explained that the creator made the first world in perfect balance where
humans spoke one language, but humans turned away from moral and
spiritual principles. They misused their spiritual powers for selfish purposes.
They did not follow natureUs rules. Eventually the world was destroyed by
sinking of land and separation of land by what you would call major
earthquakes. Many died and only a small handful survived.
Then this handful of peaceful people came into the second world. They
repeated their mistakes and the world was destroyed by freezing which you
call the great Ice Age.
The few survivors entered the third world. That world lasted a long time
and as in previous worlds, the people spoke one language. The people
invented many machines and conveniences of high technology, some of
which have not yet been seen in this age. They even had spiritual powers
that they used for good. They gradually turned away from natural laws and
pursued only material things and finally only gambled while they ridiculed
spiritual principles. No one stopped them from this course and the world was
destroyed by the great flood that many nations still recall in their ancient
history or in their religions.
The Elders said again only a small groups escaped and came to this fourth
world where we now live. Our world is in terrible shape again even though
the Great Spirit gave us different languages and sent us to four corners of the
world and told us to take care the the Earth and all that is in it.
This Hopi ceremonial rattle represents Mother Earth. The line running
around it is a time line and indicates that we are in the final days of the
prophecy. What have you, as individuals, as nations and as the world body
been doing to to take care of this Earth? In the Earth today, humans poison
their own food, water and air with pollution. Many of us, including children,
are left to starve. Many wars are still being fought. Greed and concern for
material things is a common disease. In this western hemisphere, our
homeland, many original native people are landless, homeless, starving and
have no medical help.
The Hopi knew humans would develop many powerful technologies that
would be abused. In this century, we have seen the First World War and the
Second World War in which the predicted gourd of ashes, which you call the
atomic bomb, fell from the sky with great destruction. Many thousands of
people were destroyed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
For many years there has been great fear and danger of World War Three.
The Hopi believe the Persian Gulf War was the beginning of World War
Three but it was stopped and the worst weapons of destruction were not
used. This is now a time to weigh the choices for our future. We do have a
choice. If you, the nations of this Earth, create another great war, the Hopi
believe we humans will burn ourselves to death with ashes. That's why the
spiritual Elders stress strongly that the United Nations fully open the door
for native spiritual leaders as soon as possible.
Nature itself does not speak with a voice that we can easily understand.
Neither can the animals and birds we are threatening with extinction talk to
us. Who in this world can speak for nature and the spiritual energy that
creates and flows through all life? In every continent are human beings who
are like you but who have not separated themselves from the land and from
nature. It is through their voice that Nature can speak to us. You have heard
those voices and many messages from the four corners of the world today. I
have studied comparative religion and I think in your own nations and
cultures you have knowledge of the consequences of living out of balance
with nature and spirit. The native peoples of the world have seen and spoken
to you about the destruction of their lives and homelands, the ruination of
nature and the desecration of their sacred sites. It is time the United Nations
used its rules to investigate these occurrences and stop them now.
The Four Corners area of the Hopi is bordered by four sacred mountains.
The spiritual center within is a sacred site our prophecies say will have
special purpose in the future for mankind to survive and now should be left
in its natural state. All nations must protect this spiritual center.
The Hopi and all original native people hold the land in balance by prayer,
fasting and performing ceremonies. Our spiritual Elders still hold the land in
the Western Hemisphere in balance for all living beings, including humans.
No one should be relocated from their sacred homelands in this Western
Hemisphere or anywhere in the world. Acts of forced relocation, such as
Public Law 93-531 in the United States, must be repealed.
The United Nations stands on our native homeland. The United Nations
talks about human rights, equality and justice and yet the native people have
never had a real opportunity to speak to this assembly since its establishment
until today. It should be the mission of your nations and this assembly to use
your power and rules to examine and work to cure the damage people have
done to this Earth and to each other. Hopi Elders know that was your
mission and they wait to see whether you will act on it now.
Nature, the First People and the spirit of our ancestors are giving you loud
warnings. Today, December 10, 1992, you see increasing floods, more
damaging hurricanes, hail storms, climate changes and earthquakes as our
prophesies said would come. Even animals and birds are warning us with
strange change in their behavior such as the beaching of whales. Why do
animals act like they know about the earth's problems and most humans act
like they know nothing? If we humans do not wake up to the warnings, the
great purification will come to destroy this world just as the previous worlds
(Thomas and Oren Lyons held up a picture of a large rock drawing in
This rock drawing shows part of the Hopi prophecy. There are two paths.
The first with technology but separate from natural and spiritual law leads to
these jagged lines representing chaos. The lower path is one that remains in
harmony with natural law. Here we see a line that represents a choice like a
bridge joining the paths. If we return to spiritual harmony and live from our
hearts, we can experience a paradise in this world. If we continue only on
this upper path, we will come to destruction.
Its up to all of us, as children of Mother Earth, to clean up this mess
before it's too late.
The Elders request that during this International Year for the Worlds
Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations keep that door open for spiritual
leaders from the four corners of the world to come to speak to you for more
than a few minutes as soon as possible. The Elders also request that eight
investigative teams visit the native areas of the world to observe and tell the
truth about what is being done and stop these nations from moving in this
self- destructive direction.
If any of you leaders want to learn more about the spiritual vision and
power of the Elders, I invite you to come out to Hopiland and sit down with
our real spiritual leaders in their sacred Kivas where they will reveal the
ancient secrets of survival and balance.
I hope that all members of this assembly that know the spiritual way will
not just talk about it, but in order to have real peace and harmony, will
follow what it says across the United Nations wall: "They will beat their
swords into plowshares and study war no more." Lets, together, do that now!
The night before the presentations of the native people from around the
world to the General Assembly, there was a total eclipse of the moon over
New York City and the sky was clear. The evening after the presentation by
Mr Banyacya and the other native spokespersons, heavy rain and strong
wind began. The weathermen had been calling for a snowstorm but what
came the following day were the worst floods in New York's memory. Major
highways were washed away by the sea and the United Nations itself
experienced flooding of its lower subfloors, forcing a shutdown of its
heating and air conditioning and all personnel were dismissed at three
In the ground floor meeting room, where on December 11, native peoples
were meeting representatives of various UN agencies, Thomas Banyacya
spontaneously called on all the participants, including UN officials, to form
a great circle. All the Elders were in the center and Thomas called in some
non-native people as well. Each silently said a prayer. The forming of the
circle of unity of all people from the four corners of the Earth was more than
just a symbolic act. One participant said she had never felt herself to be in
such a safe place. Later, several people present noted that no further storm
damage occurred in Manhattan and that the storm itself abated that