Tribe demands apology

Comments by FOX personality John Stossel draw ire of Chief Allan

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COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene Tribe Chairman Chief J. Allan sent a letter to the head of FOX News Channel demanding an apology from both the network and one of its TV personalities.

Allan accused FOX anchor John Stossel of insensitive on-air comments made about American Indians.

"The ignorance behind the statements made by John Stossel poured salt into the slowly healing wounds of Native Americans and added disgrace to an already shameful page in American History," Allan wrote in his letter Monday.

The Tribe pointed to a specific one-minute clip of Stossel on FOX. Neither the network nor Stossel could immediately be reached for comment.

The Press couldn't confirm with FOX what day Stossel made the comments or how long he spoke about American Indians and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, two primary topics of the 58-second clip which has been posted on YouTube.

Allan wrote that Stossel made a series of misinformed and irresponsible statements that have insulted an entire population of American Indians and highlighted his level of disrespect and misunderstanding toward Indians.

"Stossel ignorantly asked the rhetorical question, 'Why is there a Bureau of Indian Affairs? There is no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs or Black Affairs or Irish Affairs.'"

Allan called it a disparaging and misleading question.

Stossel also said no group has received more help from the U.S. government than Indian Americans.

"But 200 years later, no group does worse," Stossel said on the show.

Allan wrote: "Few words could be more misinformed or more offensive."

Stossel continued, "And the Indians that get out of government management - they thrive in America."

He finished by arguing that individuals do better "if government would just butt out."

Allan said American Indians share a unique relationship with the U.S. government through what he called the "Federal Trust Responsibility."

"This fiduciary duty arose from contractually binding promises made to tribes in exchange for the hundreds of millions of acres of land ceded to the United States government during the nation's movement westward," Allan wrote.

Allan continued by writing that Stossel "intentionally misleads viewers to believe that the 'help' tribes receive is some gratuitous benefit provided to one minority over another."

Allan said the benefits are a requirement under terms of treaties and executive orders.

"Had he bothered to research Native American history, Mr. Stossel may have also learned that U.S. military campaigns ordered to forcibly remove Indians from those lands did so with lies, deception and ultimately by slaughtering our men, women and children," Allan wrote.

"Maybe next time Mr. Stossel decides to recklessly rant about government waste he won't choose the department effectively mandated by Congress to remedy the aftermath of state-sponsored genocide."

Allan wrote that American Indians did not ask for the establishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but many of its services are crucial to the continued survival of American Indian people.

Allan addressed his letter to FOX News Channel's head, Roger Ailes, in New York.

Indian Affairs is the oldest bureau of the U.S. Department of Interior. It currently provides services to about 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Its mission is to enhance their quality of life, promote economic opportunity, and protect and improve the assets of American Indians and tribes.

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