Second-generation television pundit Tucker Carlson has jumped on the Indian-bashing bandwagon that has been slowly circulating through his ideological neighborhood. In an article in the February Reader’s Digest under his apparently trademarked headline “That’s Outrageous,” he denounces Indian land claims suits as “a shakedown.” He argues that by threatening the title of individual landowners, these suits are designed to win support for a casino in a compromise settlement. Give him some credit for bringing in fresh material, but his history is no better than that of any of his peers.
He refers to “a group of Oneidas” in New York State, presumably the Wisconsin Oneidas, without mentioning, or apparently knowing, that the Haudenosaunee land suits predate casinos by more than a decade and that individual land-owners have been excused from the Oneida suit. (The Wisconsin Oneidas are trying to revive that tactic, which this paper has consistently criticized as imprudent and unnecessarily inflammatory. One of their suits names the building housing the administrative offices of the New York-based Oneida Indian Nation. But this whole involuted story goes way back.)
He cites the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Connecticut as if they just stumbled on this idea. In fact, Chief Quiet Hawk and Moon Face Bear were pushing landowner suits a decade ago, as part of their quest for federal recognition. Likewise he misrepresents the Schaghticoke Indian lawsuit in Kent, Conn., which instead of targeting “innocent landowners,” focused on town property and the toney Kent School which were clearly carved from the historic Schaghticoke reservation, 480 acres of which still remain in tribal hands. He questions the legitimacy of the state-recognized Schaghticokes (who have a history going back to colonial times) by citing a misunderstood passage from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the liberal Democrat and arch Indian fighter. We’d like to see if the arch-conservative Carlson has ever relied on Blumenthal’s authority on any other issue.
Of course, Carlson’s main assumption is that Indian land rights are an outdated nuisance and that the grandchildren of the land thieves should remain undisturbed in their patrimony. This is a point about which much more can be written later.