A bill that would eliminate 11 unenforced federal laws that Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he was “embarrassed” exist has been approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Lankford, a co-sponsor of the bill, said eliminating the laws is long overdue.
“Some of the statutes that are still on federal books are things like you cannot pay a Native American if they’re under the influence of intoxicating liquor, that you can actually force people that are Native Americans into forced labor, that their children could be taken from them without parental consent and put into boarding schools,” Lankford, a Republican, said at the committee meeting in March.
“I’m embarrassed that we as a nation ever had these laws on the books. I’m really embarrassed that they are still on the books.”
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The bill moved to the full Senate for consideration. Similar legislation cleared the Senate unanimously in 2019 but was never considered in the House. Cherokee and Chickasaw Nation leaders praised the bill when it was introduced two years ago.
Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican who authored the bill, said it was “at best, an oversight” that the laws remained on the books.
“Throughout history, Native Americans have been subjected to federal laws that are offensive, immoral and outright racist,” Rounds said.
“In many cases, these laws are more than a century old and do nothing but continue the stigma of subjugation and paternalism from that time period. Clearly there is no place in our legal code for such laws.”
Source: USA Today – Breaking News