the u.s. government announced on monday a settlement for lawsuits over the mismanagement of natural resources and other assets. the government will pay $492 million to 17 american indian tribes.
the u.s. says there are over 100 lawsuits - totaling $3.3 billion - which have been brought against the federal government by indigenous peoples and tribes; some date back more than a century.
during his 2008 presidential campaign, barack obama promised to institute an indian policy. obama said the (intended) policy "starts with honoring the unique government-to-government relationship, and ensuring treaty responsibilities are met."
"settling these long-standing disputes reflects the obama administration's continued commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for indian country," said u.s. secretary of the interior sally jewel.
as part of treaty agreements going back to the 1800s, the department of interior manages 56 million acres of land on behalf of more than 250 tribes. the department also handles about 100,000 leases on land on the same land for a variety of uses, including farming, housing, gas and oil extraction.
the u.s. government, as trustees of the land, must make sure the tribes receive "just compensation" for the use of their land. melody mccoy, a staff attorney with the native american rights fund, handled 13 of the 17 settlements.
mccoy said, "the u.s. government would say it held the assets in trusts benevolently, for the protection of indian land and money. the flip side of that is that in exchange, the government was supposed to be a good trustee, and it wasn't. land was not managed well. money and resources were not managed well."
allegedly, native americans lost decades of income as a result of governmental neglect. but mccoy noted since obama took office, there have been 95 total settlements with tribes; 11 more are in active negotiation. mccoy feels this is quite an accomplishment.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.