Scholars: Pendley Has History of “Overt Racism” Toward Native People

“William Perry Pendley pushed rhetoric, legal arguments, and policies that sought to deprive Indigenous people of their rights.”

“In the five books authored by President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, William Perry Pendley rails against “environmental extremists,” endangered species protections, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Al Gore — all of whom, in his view, would illicitly limit private development on the lands of the West. He had another target too: policies supporting Native nations’ treaty rights.

Pendley has been the acting leader of the BLM, which is responsible for managing the nation’s public lands, for more than a year. With confirmation hearings expected in the coming weeks, his long history of attacking Indigenous people is getting new scrutiny.

For years, Pendley was head of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a right-wing organization that has fought multiple high-profile cases favoring private property rights in states west of the Mississippi, including in Native territories. In court and in his voluminous writings, Pendley attempted to undo protections for sites considered sacred to tribes; fought Justice Department efforts to support Native voters’ rights; argued in favor of toppling key legal precedents that uphold treaty rights; and made statements about Native identity and religion that Indigenous scholars and attorneys call deeply offensive.”

Alleen Brown reports for the Intercept August 1, 2020.