The famous 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee — which triggered the infamous and violent standoff with the federal government — was the culmination of a growing dissatisfaction among members of The American Indian Movement (AIM) towards corrupt Oglala officials who were perpetually selling out their community’s interests.
AIM, however, wasn’t born in a political vacuum. However, it was federal policy that pushed many Native Americans off their reservations and into urban areas, energizing the long simmering ‘pan-Indian’ movement and inspiring the emergence of AIM. The rise of AIM, and the over-arching sense of unity among tribes across the United States, was an unintended consequence of political attempts to assimilate Native Americans and finalize the federal government’s long game of cultural genocide.
The phrase ‘unintended consequence’ is a favorite of political conservatives. When it is used in a pre-emptive manner (rather than a retrospective one) it often serves as a caveat to government policy which sounds good in theory but could predictably achieve ends counter to the proposed intent. Conservatives regularly speak about the unintended consequences of gun control, the unintended consequences of a welfare state, and the like. And now Markwayne Mullin, one of only two Native American members of Congress — both of whom are Republican — has appropriated this jargon from the establishment lexicon to offer an awkward preemptive defense of his own views on the privatization of Native lands.
In a widely circulated Reuter’s Article, Mullin was quoted as saying:
“We should take tribal land away from public treatment. As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.”
Mullin, notably failing to address what sort of unintended consequences should be of concern here, issued a press…