GOP lawmaker threatens new Indian war

Tohono O'odham

In a little-noted interview on the Oct. 28 episode of right-wing online video show “In The Trenches with Teddy Daniels,” Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar suggested that his party’s gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, could order the state’s National Guard to surround and blockade the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American reservation that borders Mexico, ensuring that “no one passes.” Gosar also offered the notion that Lake could go to the US Supreme Court to seek state authority over the reservation.

“What if, just what if, somebody like Kari Lake wins the governorship, which she should, and she follows through on her promise like Donald Trump did, and says, ‘OK, I’m calling a state of emergency across the state of Arizona. I’m militia-izing the National Guard. I am putting them on the border. And let’s do this: Let’s outline the Tohono O’odham Nation’,” Gosar said during the interview with Bikers for Trump member Teddy Daniels, who placed third in the Republican primary for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor earlier this year (his campaign derailed by accusations of domestic abuse).

Gosar continued: “We outline them all—with all our National Guard. And we say, no one passes. Well, that tells the Tohono O’odham, you’re either America and Arizona first, or you’re Mexico first. And Mexico doesn’t recognize you. Oh, that’s a good one.”

Gosar went on to say Lake could take the matter to the Supreme Court: “And then—then we say, ‘Wait a minute. You failed at your jurisdiction and your guarantee clause of the invasion clause. So we’re taking back order. What does the state have that you and I don’t? It has direct redress to the Supreme Court. You’re at that point now where you have to start that fight. Take the fight to the Supreme Court.”

The “invasion clause” is presumably a reference to the US Constitution’s Protection Against Invasion Clause, which does “guarantee” that the federal government (not Indian tribes) will protect the states against “invasion” (not undocumented immigration). As for the claim that Mexico “doesn’t recognize” the Tohono O’odham, the Mexican state of Sonora (across from Arizona) does indeed recognize the territorial and cultural rights of the designated “binational ethnic group,” who inhabit several municipalities on the southern side of the border and are granted free access to pass back and forth.

Reporter Nick R. Martin, who brought Gosar’s indiscretion to light in The Informant, notes that the tribe’s reservation has a population of 9,561, about 40% of whom live below the poverty line. The large expanse of land reaches from central Arizona to a 74-mile stretch of the US-Mexico border. Contrary to Gosar’s accusations, the Tohono O’odham tribal government cooperates with the Border Patrol, and even joined the multi-agency Southwest Border Task Force. However, the Tohono O’odham have long opposed plans for a border wall that would cut through their traditional territory, and most recently protested that they were never consulted on the destruction of their ancestral sites to make way for the barrier. There is a No Wall page on the tribe’s official website.

Gosar’s comments came a day after Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, took part in a press conference held by the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, in which he blasted Lake’s candidacy, calling her talk of an “invasion” from across the border “irresponsible nonsense.” Norris has said as far back as 2007 that a border wall would only be built on the reservation “over my dead body.” (More at Raw Story)

The Arizona governor’s race is still too close to call, with Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs holding a narrow lead over Trump ally Lake, who has refused to commit to accepting the election result if she loses. (CNN)

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