"No group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians. It's because we have the treaties, we stole their land ... but 200 years later no group does worse."
This was the tenor of a segment on "Fox and Friends" last week where Fox News' John Stossel was wondering why there is a Bureau of Indian Affairs when there's no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs, or Irish Affairs.
The obtuse rhetorical questions have created groans of outrage from coast-to-coast in Indian Country and prompted Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council, to write a letter to Fox News president Roger Ailes demanding an apology from Stossel and the network.
"In a matter of minutes, Mr. Stossel made a series of misinformed and irresponsible statements that has insulted an entire population of Native Americans and highlighted his level of disrespect and misunderstanding toward Indians," Allan writes in his letter.
Neither Stossel nor the other Fox personalities in the segment are aware that, unlike other minorities or ethnicities, Indians have a unique relationship with the federal government through executive orders and treaties made as — often scant — compensation for land grabs, conquests and genocide.
Had Stossel been better informed, Allan writes, he may have learned "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."
Tribes didn't ask for a Bureau of Indian Affairs, Allan writes, but notes many of its services have been crucial to Native American survival.
"The ignorance behind the statements made by John Stossel poured salt into the slowly healing wounds of Native America ..." Allan writes.