Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This Needs More Coverage: Native Americans Regaining Some Balance In the World

Over at Washington Monthly Nancy LeTourneau describes this historic moment:

In that clip Obama said he would host an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference in order to give Native Americans a seat at the table, and he said this:
We’re going to end nearly a century of mismanagement of Indian trusts. We’re going to work together to settle unresolved cases, figure out how the trusts ought to operate, and ensure that they are begin managed responsibly.
This week the White House held its 8th and final Tribal Nations Conference (note: I hope it's not final, the next President should continue them), while the Attorney General and Secretary of the Interior made an historic announcement.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that, as a result of an initiative begun in the summer of this year, the United States has reached settlement with 17 additional tribal governments who alleged that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury had mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the tribes. With these resolutions, the Obama Administration will have settled the vast majority of the outstanding claims, some dating back more than a century, with more than 100 tribes and totaling over $3.3 billion…
In April 2012, the Justice and Interior Departments announced more than $1 billion in settlements with 41 federally-recognized tribes for similar claims, the result of nearly two years of negotiations, between 2009 and the 2012 announcement, the Departments of Justice and of the Interior had settled with six other tribes. Since April 2012, the United States has reached settlement for claims of 57 additional tribes – including 17 reached after negotiations this summer and early fall – for an additional $1.9 billion, following through on its commitment to bring to an end, honorably and fairly, this protracted litigation that has burdened both the plaintiffs and the United States.
Ending these long-running disputes about the United States’ management of trust funds and non-monetary trust resources will allow the United States and the tribes to move beyond the distrust exacerbated by years of litigation. These settlement agreements represent a significant milestone in the improvement of the United States’ relationship with Indian tribes...

One of America's sorriest legacies has been the mistreatment of the native tribes that had been pushed out and marginalized by the ever-expanding United States. The Trail of Tears. Sand Creek. Wounded Knee. That legacy continued to this day through a horrific policy of holding back on funds due these tribes - derived from land-use like oil pumping and mining rights - based on long-standing treaties that our nation - until now - refused to respect.

It had been a long-running scandal that the Bureau of Indian Affairs didn't uphold its duties, allowing various forms of corruption to seep into such things as the casino industry - which can operate on Indian lands - and keeping a lot of Native Americans in extreme poverty.

I'd like to keep up with these stories, of how Obama's administration is resetting the field so to speak, make sure that all those billions of dollars goes towards land restoration, improvements in local municipalities and water/sewage, improved health and education for Native families, all of that. This is a moment to turn around over 200 years of bad policy towards the original tenants of this nation, and fulfill the idea that from the many nations we form the one.


Denny from Ohio said...

Hear, hear!

dinthebeast said...

There are seven tribes native to the area where I grew up, and one of them, the Hupa, are one of the very few tribes still on their native land. I really hope that the Tribal Nations Conference continues on, because all it takes is the merest glimpse at our history, and in some cases not that ancient of history, to see that we have some growing up to do where our responsibilities are concerned.

-Doug in Oakland