Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
What Are Indians After? $13 Billion PLUS Interest
Maybe you've gotten the news that NJ Congressman Jim Saxton and PA Senator Rick Santorum have rid their coffers of the few thousand bucks donated to them by way of corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his traveling "I've Got Money from Indians" milk wagon.
Here's a tip, Kemo Sabe. Forget that piddling media sideshow. Please listen to this:
Your pockets are about to be picked by a small group of Indians who have hijacked the Department of Interior (DOI) with a court suit that may soon create a new Saudi Arabian like-class of U.S. millionaires whose money-making talent primarily lies in their Native American DNA.
This is no joke. Go to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs web site here and find it shut down because of the Cobell v. Norton law suit. That obscure little suit simply asks DOI to account for every dollar given Indians since 1887 (tens of millions of transactions) and guess what? The DOI has practically screeched to a halt in order to do that.
Montana Blackfoot Tribe member Elouise Cobell, lead Native American plantiff in the suit, makes no bones about what she wants – a settlement.
It should include, in her words "equitable restitution and disgorgement of the $13 billion plus accrued interest that the government has withheld unlawfully for 118 years.
"This is our property and our property right, just as your car, house and bank account are your property – property the government can not take away," Cobell says.
The situation is this: some 225,000 Indians, many of them in the same families, have ownership of 10 million acres in land trusts in the U.S. The government has been paying them a return on that land. The money comes from gas and oil royalties, timber and forestry income, surface leases, etc.
It is not minor income the Indians are making. In 2000, these payments amounted to $71 million.
(This, of course, is separate from the Indian casino industry, a whole other bad news basket. If the BIA web site was operating, you could see the gold rush-effect of casinos for Indian tribes. Some are doing very well, others are a waste of your money. This is ripe for a hard-hitting investigation.)
The Indian suit contends that something probably is fishy and they are owed more. Much more. The 1996 Cobell suit prompted a District Court to order the full government accounting back to 1887, which DOI Secretary Gale Norton said would take an incredible amount:
Like, $12 billion. Of taxpayer funds. YOUR money.
An appeal has stayed the order, but Norton says in this brochure that DOI already has done a comprehensive sampling of hundreds of thousands of records and found no major errors or fraud.
Oh, that little effort above has cost you $100 million. (Sorry, but that does not count the $36 million paid to some additional Indian landowners the DOI found in the accounting.)
The Indians are not happy campers. They counter that DOI is wrong or covering up or whatever. See their web site here
Oh, by the way, they've asked the government – you – to pay their $14.5 million legal costs and expenses tab for the litigation – under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
The DOI claims that no injustice was done, the Indians say great economic harm was done them. The truth may be somewhere in the middle.
But there is no doubt this will all cost taxpayers many billions.
If you're an entrepreneur, consider how this can work in your favor.
A Hummer dealership near the reservation?
Posted by Ant Bytes at 9:57 am
Natives and others reply
From the same posting:
3. This "blurb" is a perfect example that most of what appears on the net is fluff with no substance. Or, in this case, a vague and vacuous opinion with little basis for it. It shows that the writer did very little research and has very little grasp of the facts. And very little interest in obtaining or sharing them with any reader. What this 'blurb' is, is an opportunity for the reader to see the real agenda of the writer and the inherent bigotry on display. There are so many facets of this article that were out of touch with reality that it's hard to know where to begin, but I'll touch on just two: -- "... every dollar given Indians ..." is not the complete concept. It is actually about dollars TAKEN from the Indians. This is money, as much as 90 cents on the dollar, that "your" government has lost, squandered or otherwise mishandled for over a century. The $13 billion may only be a fraction of the money taken by the government but not held in much trust, for the Indians -- and that's not even talking about the cheap rates that the gov leased the resources for to generate the funds. More like welfare for Corporate America. Corporations would rebel if the same thing happened to them for even a single year! -- "Your pockets are about to be picked...". If the "your" reference is to US taxpayers, then once again your bias is showing. The lawsuit isn't about taxpayer's money, it's about Indian's money -- money that either was not paid at all or paid at a very small fraction of what should have been in the trust accounts. This is no different then any other "citizen" requiring their bank to keep proper track of their savings account and pay the money that is owned them. In this case, it as "forced" banking -- the Indians did not have a choice. For some reasons, there are people -- such as yourself it seems- that think Indians should not have what belongs to them. Sound familiar? It does to Indians. "This is no joke..." could not be more true. There is nothing funny about this bigotry spewing, falsehood filled tale that the writer is trying to pass as intelligent conversation. It is another chapter in the centuries old saga of the continuing bias and persecution of Native Americans.
Comment by Gregg Castro — 1.7.2006 @ 12:38 am
6. This note caught my eye, mostly because it clearly shows how little the average citizen understands federal moneyjuggling, especially where Native Americans are concerned. The average Joe appears to get lost in all those billion and millions the politicians toss about — and this Joe is really worked up about an attempted Indian raid on American tax dollars. He suggests enterprising white folks ought to set up a Hummer dealership off the rez. I kinda hope this guy tries it, before he runs the numbers. He's outraged that Indians are asking for either a comprehensive accounting of federal trust monies for the past hundred years, or failing that, a settlement. The figure of $13 billion is tossed out as a possible settlement outcome — and he's mad about that! Now here comes the corker. He says the Indians have been raking in a "not minor income" over the years. He even gives the figures — $71 million annually for 10 million acres of Indian land and 225,000 Indian trustees. Here's a little third grade math about the "not minor income. By the author's own figures, 71 million paid to Indians for the use of their own 10 million acres divided by 225,000 Indians comes to $315 each annually ($7 an acre annually — I'd like to get a contract to use land for that price). IF the plaintiffs are, in fact, awarded $13 billion — that comes to a one-time payment of a little over $57,000. Trust payments were never paid out of US tax money. It's money ranchers, mining, natural gas companies and oil corporations paid, or should have paid to the DOI for the use of Indian land. $7 an acre annually for oil wells, right-of-ways for gas lines, coal mines, grazing, forestry, etc... seems a bit inadequate, now doesn't it? Either the DOI "lost" the money by allocating it to other budgets than the rightful owners' accounts, granted woefully low sweetheart contracts, or it was, to put it frankly — embezzled. Or all the above. The feds put Indian land into "trust" ostensibly because Indians were too savage to manage their own affairs competently. Well, they've kept this fiction up, and somebody's been pocketing the change. The DOI claims it's "impossble" to adequately keep up with Indian accounts. Hmmm...should we then wonder about the "possibility" of keeping up with tax liabilities or Social Security for something like 50 times as many non-Indian people? As has been said before — it is Indian land, being used by private and corporate interests under the DOI's oversight, and it's time to pony up. This isn't about welfare. It's about rent. Elouise Cobell is a true heroine and we're darned lucky she got tired of being told "we can't" and stood up and said "you must."
Comment by Janet Smith — 1.9.2006 @ 8:29 pm
Perhaps an analogy will help Ant Bytes see (how ignorant he is). Suppose the IRS withholds too much of your taxes. Suppose further that the IRS refuses to give you a refund. That money is yours, not the government's. If you sue the IRS, you're suing to get the money you earned back, not money from other taxpayers.
There now. That wasn't so hard to understand, was it?
The facts about tribal sovereignty
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