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Webmaster's Blog - Native American Resources

A place to put resources of a more ephemeral nature, such as events, recommended new websites, new books, etc.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Native American Times Endorses Barak Obama

US Senator Barack Obama is the choice of the Native American Times to become the next president of the United States. This choice made before the all important super Tuesday election to get as many Native Americans to the polls as possible to push Obama to victory. This is not an anti-Hillary vote but a decision based on what is best for Native Americans.

Alaska will be caucusing; Colorado with the Ute Nation and large Native urban populations will have a primary; the Nez Perce will be voting in the all Democratic caucuses; The Kickapoo, and Prairie Band Potawatomi will be voting in the Kansas Caucuses; The Dakota and Ojibwa people will be voting in Minnesota’s Primaries; Republican Crows, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Cree and others will be voting in Montana’s caucuses; the Pueblos, Navajos, and Apaches will be voting in New Mexico Primaries; the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and other tribes will voting in New York’s primaries; In North Dakota the three Affiliated tribes, Devil’s Lake Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux and Turtle Mountain Chippewa will be voting in their caucuses; Oklahoma with their over 300,000 Indians and over 30 federally recognized tribes will be heading to the polls for their primary; in Utah the Navajo, Ute’s, Shoshone, Paiutes and Goshute tribes will vote in their primaries. Over 1 million Indians will be voting on Super Tuesday and they can have a deciding say in who is the next president of the United States. And one man seems to know and care about that fact.

Obama has started to aggressively reach out to Native Americans in word and deed. In his words he has put together a policy which truly addresses Native problems. In his deeds he has actually gone to Indian reservations to seek our votes. He is also the co-sponsor of the all important Indian Health Care Improvement Act. And he continues to seek the Native vote.

As he explains it, he says he understands to be treated differently and unfairly. Part of the change he proposes is one of justice and equality. He is also proposing sweeping changes in health care for Native Americans that include mental health. While the economy is the driving issue on the national stage its ‘Health Stupid,’ in Indian Country. People are dying too soon, babies are not making it to adulthood, and diabetes is robbing our way of life in ways never imagined. It’s hard to worry about the paycheck when you are too sick to go anyway.

According to his advisors on Indian issues, he will address the nagging problem of criminal jurisdiction on Indian land. From runaway meth use to domestic violence to murder the problems on Indian land should be the providence of Indian governments where they are able. It is a significant distinction because it is clear some in the federal government doesn’t believe Indian governments are legitimate or evolved enough to handle a more expansive role in criminal jurisdiction. It is part of the change this campaign has represented.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is a force of nature and has been a voice for justice in her deliberations. She has become a polarizing figure in national politics and the republican party is licking its chops to get a shot at her. She also represents the past. And while I believe she is worthy of National office she is not the best choice.

Perhaps more than anything, Obama inspires us to want and dream of more. Indian Country has been waiting for someone like Barack for a long time. Now is the time for positive change and now is the time to vote Barack Obama on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 for President of the United States. Native Americans can make history next week if we all pull together and get behind the man who actually wants our vote.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Editorial - The Verdict: It’s Broken - New York Times

The case of the mismanaged American Indian trust funds is Dickensian both in length — now 11 years before the courts — and inequity. On Wednesday, Judge James Robertson of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Interior Department had “unreasonably delayed” its accounting for billions of dollars owed to American Indian landholders and that the agency “cannot remedy the breach.”

There is, of course, no full remedy — not for the historical wrongs or the cynical and shabby accounting or the years of frustration. And as Judge Robertson and others before him have noted, a meticulously accurate tally of what the American Indians are owed is almost certainly impossible. Yet that does not mean that a reasonable compromise cannot be reached or that the government should abandon efforts to find one. A study group set up by Gale Norton, the former interior secretary, in early 2001 was scrapped after less than two years. Simple justice requires a more sustained effort.

In 1996, Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot Indian, filed a lawsuit claiming that the government had mismanaged billions of dollars in oil, timber and other royalties held in trust for some half-million Indians. The Indians were given land allotments between the end of the 19th century and 1934, a time when it was government policy to try to do away with tribal entities and reservations. The government held title to the land, and these accounts were meant to collect and disburse the revenues.

The simple question is this: can the government account for the money it held in trust? Judge Robertson’s judgment: “It is now clear that completion of the required accounting is an impossible task.” This, as he points out, is an “irreparable breach of fiduciary duty,” a breach that, in our opinion, is all the more galling because these individual trust accounts have come over time to look like a form of paternalistic fraud.

Even with meticulous oversight, monitoring them accurately would have been a tough assignment. But the government’s failure is not simply sloppy bookkeeping. It is willful neglect, including the active destruction of records and the failure to comply with court orders.

As Judge Robertson notes, the fact that the government cannot provide a full accounting for what may be billions of dollars “does not mean that a just resolution is hopeless.” He has scheduled a new hearing to try and find a remedy. We hope it will indeed mark the beginning of the end of this case and the beginning of real equity for the holders of these accounts.