Last updated on 2013.02.27
Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today Media Network includes Congresswoman Kristi Noem on his list of "Heroes on the Hill" for Native American issues. His praise for Noem comes from one issue, her introduction of a bill to "defend tribal sovereignty and promote economic opportunities on reservations lands by eliminating ambiguity in existing federal law".
That's code for "keep unions off reservations," the true intent of Noem's HR 2335, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act. Note that Noem has never been able to explain why allowing unions to protect worker rights on reservations is bad. Her bill has sat motionless in the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee since September.
So once again, Noem hasn't really accomplished anything to deserve praise. She hasn't made a real difference for tribal sovereignty. As on so many other issues, Noem is all talk and no action.
Update 2011.12.26 08:42 CST: An earlier Capriccioso report in ICT cites the NLRB ruling that has twisted Noem's nickers:
The labor board's decision said the following: "As tribal businesses prosper, they become significant employers of non-Indians and serious competitors with non-Indian owned businesses. When Indian tribes participate in the national economy in commercial enterprises, when they employ substantial numbers of non-Indians, and when their businesses cater to non-Indian clients and customers, the tribes affect interstate commerce in a significant way."
"When the Indian tribes act in this manner, the special attributes of their sovereignty are not implicated," according to the decision, which served to reverse longstanding policy that said on-reservation tribal enterprises were exempt from the labor law [Rob Capriccioso, "New Congressional Anti-Tribal Union Advocate Emerges," Indian Country Today].