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Human rights group says activists targeting American Indians deserve hate label

Groups throughout the United States that favor stripping away tribal sovereignty from American Indians are practicing a brand of hate that deserves higher recognition, the Montana Human Rights Network says in a new briefing paper.

“Too many people consider the anti-American Indian movement to be just another mainstream conservative movement,” Travis McAdam, the network’s research director, said in releasing the briefing paper.

“The reality is that anti-American Indian groups belong on the right-wing fringe, which is exactly where their ideology originates,” McAdam said. Such groups, he continued, “deserve the hate group designation, because they seek to deny legally-established rights to American Indians by terminating tribal sovereignty.”

The network’s briefing paper includes quotes from anti-American Indian activists spread by various antigovernment groups, including Oath Keepers, whose founder, Stewart Rhodes, lives in Montana.

In one example last year, an anti-American Indian activist advanced the baseless claim in an Oath Keepers video that the Muslim Brotherhood was not only eyeing “sanctuary cities,” but the nation’s 340 Indian reservations to set up Sharia Law.

While the anti-American Indian movement is national in scope, “it tends to be felt on a more regional and local basis,” McAdam told Hatewatch.

It is particularly prevalent in regions where American Indian Nations are based, especially when tribes are exercising their sovereignty. The research director said that can make the anti-American Indian movement “feel less-pervasive than, say, the anti-government movement.”

The Montana Human Rights Network has closely monitored the anti-American Indian movement for years. In 2000, the civil rights organization issued a detailed report that provided an in-depth analysis of the movement and its key activists pushing to eradicate American Indian sovereignty and treaty rights.

“Anti-American Indian activists tend to come from the right wing of the political spectrum, which means they’re skeptical of the federal government on most issues,” McAdam said.

“It’s common to find these activists promoting conspiracy theories and using talking points identical to those of the anti-government and white nationalist movements” who frequently focus on dangers posed by the federal government, he said.

“However, when American Indians are in the picture, if the choice is between a federal agency or an American Indian Nation, [anti-American Indian] activists break with their normal routine and sing the praises of the feds,” McAdam said. “This dynamic helps underscore the racism that is central to the anti-American Indian movement.”

The network’s briefing report concludes by saying the movement “harnesses the legacy of Manifest Destiny to push American Indians out of focus and into oblivion, as its logical conclusion is the termination of American Indian sovereignty.”

Photo credit Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

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