Grijalva: Republicans Should Repudiate “Jaw-Dropping” Witness Emphasis on “Assimilation” at Today’s Tribal Policy Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said following today’s recently concluded hearing on Native American tribal recognition and land management policy that his Republican colleagues should repudiate the assertions of Don Mitchell – a Republican-invited witness – that the purpose of the Indian Recognition Act (IRA) of 1934 was to hasten the “assimilation” of Native American communities. Mitchell also told the Committee today that groups such as the Graton Rancheria and Mashantucket Pequot communities “suddenly, instantaneously became tribes” because of concerted lobbying efforts that had nothing to do with any historically valid identity – an assertion he did nothing to back up.

Grijalva said Mitchell had no business appearing at today’s hearing and deserved condemnation from the Republican side of the aisle. By Mitchell’s own count, this is the fourth time since the controversial Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court ruling in 2009 that he has appeared as a Republican hearing witness on tribal issues – including an appearance at an April 2015 hearing convened by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) titled “The Obama Administration’s Part 83 Revisions and How They May Allow the Interior Department to Create Tribes, not Recognize Them.”

Video highlights of Mr. Mitchell’s testimony today are available at http://bit.ly/2tNx3xv.

“Fringe, out-of-date views have no place in a congressional hearing room, and my Republican colleagues have a chance to do the right thing by repudiating Mr. Mitchell and his remarks as soon as possible,” Grijalva said today. “We saw a jaw-dropping display of ignorance today, and allowing it to stand in the record without comment is irresponsible.”

The IRA lays out the process by which the federal government considers tribal petitions for recognition – a process Republicans, including Bishop, have sought to eliminate in favor of politicizing tribal recognition by giving Congress sole authority to recognize tribes.

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