United States Commission on Civil Rights

Confidential Draft Report
“Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968”

May 1990


Indian Civil Rights, page 17
background for the ensuing discussion, the following summary of the relevant events at Red Lake was presented to the panelists:

1972: A law review article appeared criticizing the tribal courts at Red Lake;[37]
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     [36] (...continued)
Memorandum to the files, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior (May 20, 1977).
     Another Interior Department memorandum mentions "[c]omplaints about the refusal of the tribe to permit legal counsel to represent individuals before the court in defiance of the mandate of the Indian Civil Rights Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1302(6), were documented as early as 1972 in a law review article, Note, Tribal Injustice, The Red Lake Court of Indian Offenses, 48 N.D.L. Rev. 638, 654-655 (1972)."  Memorandum to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs from Acting Associate Solicitor, Division of Indian Affairs (Nov. 13, 1987), reprinted as Exhibit 2, Portland hearing supra note 25, at 119-122.
     [37] This article, Note, Tribal Injustice: The Red Lake Court of Indian Offenses, 48 N.D.L. Rev. 639 (1972) was mentioned by Commission staff to show that the BIA was put on notice of alleged problems at the Red Lake Court of Indian Offenses as early as 1972.  This type of public criticism of the BIA court in 1972 provides the background for understanding what the BIA and Assistant Secretary Swimmer knew concerning the Red Lake Court of Indian Offenses, a court under the BIA's control.  Washington, D.C. Hearing, supra, note 4, at 21.  Concerning this court, Assistant Secretary Swimmer admitted that he had heard some general things about the situation at Red Lake, id. at 21, and he"certainly did not condone the actions" of the court, id at 28, and that he and others agreed, "no, that's not the way to operate a judicial system out here."  Id.  Assistant Secretary Swimmer also admitted that some in the Department believed that the ICRA was being violated at the Red Lake Court of Indian Offenses, id., but he failed to explain how the BIA attempted to resolve the public allegations of civil rights abused.  Instead, he explained how the BIA in November 1987 entered into a contract for judicial services with the tribe for a tribally operated court.  Id.  Swimmer's rejection of
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