Race, sovereignty clash as Congress meddles in tribal enrollment
March 8, 2021
This story originally appeared on Underscore.news.
The chief of one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States is fighting a behind-the-scenes battle with Congress that pits racial justice against tribal sovereignty.
Gary Batton, chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, says he’s trying to head off efforts by powerful legislators who want to cut housing funds for his tribe unless the Choctaw change their citizenship rules. The fight spilled into public view last year, when Batton circulated a letter he wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisting that Congress stay out of deciding who qualifies as Choctaw. Batton warned that language some members are trying to include in a routine housing reauthorization bill would amount to “holding hostage housing assistance otherwise due the Choctaw Nation.”