Race-Baiting Oneida Nation Leader Has Problems of His Own

The so-called representative of New York's Oneida Indian Nation, Ray Halbritter, is a hard-left Democrat who has lined his own pockets inciting racial animosity, much like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. The man behind the media-hyped attack on Dan Snyder's Washington Redskins enlisted his Harvard Law School colleague Barack Obama to add his two cents. The Oneida Indian and Obama are well acquainted.

In 2012, Halbritter helped raise millions to get Obama reelected. In a sign of burgeoning political clout,70 Indian officials including Halbritter attended a first-ever Native-American campaign fund-raiser with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. on January 27. After donors shelled out a maximum $35,800 for a meet-and-greet, Obama promised to "stick by" the Indian leaders if they stuck by him.

The casino-rich tribes are few in number compared to the overall number of Indian nations, which prompted Halbritter to comment on the unfair American campaign finance system.

It's not what some people would like--that only people who can afford it have access. It's a notion we all dislike; however, how to change [the system] is a good question.

In fact, Halbritter admitted he went to Harvard because he was frustrated with the limits of tribal politics. He wanted  to be a part of the white man's system, "an exclusive club" he called it. "I wanted to sort of break into the key of what motivated these people and these politicians and these judges...I wanted to get the education that, in my opinion, the most powerful people in America have had."

In 1993, Mr. Halbritter negotiated a gaming compact for the Oneidas with New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and built the highly profitable Turning Stone Casino in central New York. Gas stations, luxury hotels, media outlets and textile factories would soon follow making Halbritter a very rich man. But Halbritter has faced harsh criticism from tribe members, including his own 71 year-old aunt, for his corporate style representation of the Oneida Indian Nation.

In the mid-1980s, wolf clan mother Maisie Shenandoah selected her nephew with two other men as representatives to the Grand Council of Chiefs  in the hopes of establishing a traditional form of governance. By the mid-1990s, Ray was the only one left on the Council, and in 2002, Maisie accused him of "operating under self-assumed authority."

In 2003, the Oneida nation government led by Halbritter issued eviction orders for homes on Territory Road in Oneida. Among the evictees was Ray Halbritter's Aunt Maisie and her daughter Diane Shenandoah."The sad thing is that every one of the members of the Men's Council, including Ray, has come to my mother for help over the years," said Diane "She has never refused to help. For her to be treated like this is a disgrace. I am ashamed of each and every one of them."

Halbritter's hard line with his own people was evident early on. In a 1998 interview with Chief Executive.net he mingled tradition with the profit motive. 

In our culture, we're supposed to keep in mind the effect whatever decisions we make now will have on the seventh generation to the future...at the same time I want to maximize revenue.

Halbritter explained that he's a realist playing by the rules that were given to him. If he hasn't doled out favors to tribe members, it's because Natives must learn to adhere to the same requirements as non-Indians. Despite intense backlash, he filled key positions with non-tribe members. "This is not easy stuff to do," he acknowledges. "But the rules have to be the same for everybody--my own son had to be fired."

Halbritter actually has three sons, two of whom were arrested in April, 2012 by the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the New York State Police in LaFayette. The charges were for third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class B felony; second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a class D felony; and first- degree falsifying business records, a class E felony.

Predictably, Halbritter did not bring up his own childrens' troubles or his failed marriages at the October 7 Name-Change symposium held at Georgetown's Ritz Carlton. Instead, he blamed the Redskins mascot for injuring the collective psyches of all youngsters.

These mascots need to end because they are disparaging. As we saw today, there is scientific evidence that it damages not only Native children, but all children. That cannot go on anymore.

In spearheading this decades-old campaign against the Redskins, the Oneida Indian Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises has opened the door for a real look at how the ruling class elites like himself and his pal Obama use people of color to amass power and wealth.

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