In an Arizona community meeting, Rep. Paul Gosar made a controversial remark that offended Native Americans in attendance and across the country when he called them ‘wards of the federal government’.
The Republican representative, as well as one of his Democratic counterparts, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, held a roundtable discussion in the northern Arizona city of Flagstaff. The legislators were defending a contentious land-swap bill that they co-sponsored. The language was absorbed into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House of Representatives passed last Thursday.
At the meeting, Phil Stago, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, called the bill disrespectful to tribal sovereignty.
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“I don’t like our ancestral lands being raided by the US Congress,” he said, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
Gosar responded that archaeological and historical investigations had found no documented proof that the area was sacred to the Apache Tribe. In response to Stago’s sovereignty concerns he said, “You’re still wards of the federal government.”
Read more: Arizona rep. offends Native Americans