A couple of years ago, I submitted a guest commentary to the ”’Yakima Herald Republic”’ newspaper, in Yakima, Washington, suggesting that feelings of citizens and communities situated within or near Indian reservations were strikingly similar to the feelings of a battered spouse. The newspaper published the article on January 5, 2003, and the reaction to the article was so remarkable, that I expanded upon the illustration, for a recent national newsletter. The subject seemed to strike a chord somewhere deep within many citizens in my region as well as across America. Here’s what I am speaking of:

A battered spouse deeply wishes that she could love and respect her spouse, and is likely to keep frequent beatings and humiliations to herself. She’ll choose silence and secrecy for so long as she can. She may often think that if she just says the right words, or acts in a different manner, the beatings will stop. Next time will be different. Things will get better. For battered spouses, things don’t get better. They get worse.

I think there’s an analogy here for three municipalities located within exterior reservations of the Yakama Nation, as well as other communities on other reservations across the country. These communities are currently experiencing a serious battering from a neighboring government. A government that is not of a municipality, county or state, is forcing itself upon these communities. A tribal government is pushing out for jurisdictional, regulatory and economic control of local communities through gaming, air quality, pesticides, water and water quality, area dams, utility taxation, and unwarranted obstruction of new non-tribal projects. That’s quite a growing list of tools by which to threaten, intimidate, control or drive off anyone who is not an enrolled tribal member.

I believe that most Americans fundamentally desire to love and respect each other, including tribal government systems, just as the battered spouse desires to love a spouse. But it’s like trying to love a porcupine; one must do so very carefully, and the love is seldom