US: $3B to end royalty dispute with Indian tribes

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed spending more than $3 billion to settle claims dating back more than a century that American Indian tribes were swindled out of royalties for oil, gas, grazing and other leases.

Under an agreement announced Tuesday, the Interior Department would distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Indian tribe members to compensate them for historical accounting claims, and to resolve future claims. The government also would spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations. The program would allow individual tribe members to obtain cash payments for land interests divided among numerous family members and return the land to tribal control.

The settlement also would create a scholarship account of up to $60 million for tribal members to attend college or vocational school.

If cleared by Congress and a federal judge, the settlement would be the largest Indian claim ever approved against the U.S. government — exceeding the combined total of all previous settlements of Indian claims.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that the Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million, a fraction of the $47 billion or more the tribes have said they are owed for leases that have been overseen by the Interior Department since 1887.

President Barack Obama said settlement of the case, known as Cobell v. Salazar, was an important step to reconcile decades of acrimony between Indian tribes and the federal government.

"As a candidate, I heard from many in Indian Country that the Cobell suit remained a stain on the nation-to-nation relationship I value so much," Obama said Tuesday in a written statement. "I pledged my commitment to resolving this issue, and I am proud that my administration has taken this step today."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the case a top priority for him and Obama and said the administration worked for many months to reach a settlement that is both honorable and responsible.

"This historic step will allow Interior to move forward and address the educational, law enforcement, and economic development challenges we face in Indian Country," Salazar said.

Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Montana who was the lead plaintiff in the case, called the proposed settlement crucial for hundreds of thousand of Native Americans who have suffered for more than a century through mismanagement of the Indian trust.

"Today is a monumental day for all of the people in Indian Country that have waited so long for justice," said Cobell, who appeared at a news conference Tuesday with Salazar, Attorney General Eric Holder and other U.S. officials.

"Did we get all the money that was due us? Probably not," Cobell said, but added: "There's too many individual Indian beneficiaries that are dying every single day without their money."

The proposed settlement affects tribes across the country, including virtually every recognized tribe west of the Mississippi River. Tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Montana are especially affected by the breakup of Indian land into small parcels, said Keith Harper, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs.

The settlement would give every Indian tribe member with an Interior Department account an immediate check for $1,000, with additional payments to be determined later under a complicated formula that takes into account a variety of factors. Many tribe members also would receive payments for parcels of land that are held in some cases by up to 100 family members, in an effort to consolidate tribal land and make it more useful and easier to manage.

The settlement does not include a formal apology for any wrongdoing by the U.S. government, but does contain language in which U.S. officials acknowledge a "breach of trust" on Indian land issues.

An apology "would have been nice," Cobell said, but was less important than settling the dispute. "Actions are more important to me than apologies," she said.

___



http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200...i_ge/us_indian_money



Original Post
Could this be an important precedent? 


This article makes it seem like this was very important to Prez Obama, but the radio blurb I heard was more focused on Eric Holder's role in this.  I'm not sure what to make of it. 


Glad to see the true Americans getting something, but what does it mean for AfricanAmericans and reparations?
This means absolutely nothing to African-Americans, Afro-Native Americans and any movement for reparations/restitution on our part. As a matter of fact, the Five Civilized Nations have begun the process to revoke the citizenship of their African descended members. The reason this was done so that they wouldn't be able to recieve any of the federal monies that have been coming to their nations since the Clinton Administration. I suspect that this may have been one of the terms of the agreement as well as the majority of Freedmen having been the former slaves of the so-called Five Civilized Nations. Allowing these black people to get restitution in that manner is what I believe would set the precedent for restitution/reparations.
Just so y'all didn't think I was making this stuff up:

http://www.cloudstrider.com/cs3/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=795

(Originally posted at yahoo news)
The Cherokee Nation vote this weekend to revoke the citizenship of the descendants of people the Cherokee once owned as slaves was a blow to people who have relied on tribal benefits.

Charlene White, a descendant of freed Cherokee slaves who were adopted into the tribe in 1866 under a treaty with the U.S. government, wondered Sunday where she would now go for the glaucoma treatment she has received at a tribal hospital in Stilwell.

"I've got to go back to the doctor, but I don't know if I can go back to the clinic or if they're going to oust me right now," said White, 56, a disabled Tahlequah resident who lives on a fixed income.

In Saturday's special election, more than 76 percent of voters decided to amend the Cherokee Nation's constitution to remove the estimated 2,800 freedmen descendants from the tribal rolls, according to results posted Sunday on the tribe's Web site.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, said the election results undoubtedly will be challenged.

"We will pursue the legal remedies that are available to us to stop people from not only losing their voting rights, but to receiving medical care and other services to which they are entitled under law," Vann said Sunday.

"This is a fight for justice to stop these crimes against humanity."

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said Sunday that election results will not be finalized until after a protest period that extends through March 12. Services currently being received by freedmen descendants will not immediately be suspended, he said.

"There isn't going to be some sort of sudden stop of a service that's ongoing," Miller said. "There will be some sort of transition period so that people understand what's going on."

In a statement late Saturday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said he was pleased with the turnout and election result.

Image
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith is seen in his Tahlequah, Okla., office in this July 6, 2006, file photo. Umm, this is the Cherokee chief? Ummkay.

"Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation," Smith said. "No one else has the right to make that determination. It was a right of self-government, affirmed in 23 treaties with Great Britain and the United States and paid dearly with 4,000 lives on the Trail of Tears."

The petition drive for the ballot measure followed a March 2006 ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court that said an 1866 treaty assured freedmen descendants of tribal citizenship.

A similar situation occurred in 2000 when the Seminole Nation voted to cast freedmen descendants out of its tribe, said attorney Jon Velie of Norman, an expert on Indian law who has represented freedmen descendants in previous cases.

"The United States, when posed the same situation with the Seminoles, would not recognize the election and they ultimately cut off most federal programs to the Seminoles," Velie said. "They also determined the Seminoles, without this relationship with the government, were not authorized to conduct gaming."

Ultimately, the Seminole freedmen were allowed back into the tribe, Velie said.

Velie said Saturday's vote already has hurt the tribe's public perception.

"It's throwback, old-school racist rhetoric," Velie said.

"And it's really heartbreaking, because the Cherokees are good people and have a very diverse citizenship," he said.

Miller, the tribal spokesman, defended the Cherokees against charges of racism, saying that Saturday's vote showed the tribe was open to allowing its citizens vote on whether non-Indians be allowed membership.

"I think it's actually the opposite. To say that the Cherokee Nation is intolerant or racist ignores the fact that we have an open dialogue and have the discussion, he said.


Another story from CBS, the same station that ran this story on 60 Minutes:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories...al/main2533971.shtml

Cherokee Nation members have voted to revoke the tribal citizenship of an estimated 2,800 descendants of the people the Cherokee Indians once owned as slaves.

With all 32 precincts reporting, 76.6 percent had voted in favor of an amendment to the tribal constitution that would limit citizenship to descendants of "by blood" tribe members as listed on the federal Dawes Commission's rolls from more than 100 years ago.

The commission, set up by a Congress bent on breaking up Indians' collective lands and parceling them out to tribal citizens, drew up two rolls, one listing Cherokees by blood and the other listing freedmen, a roll of blacks regardless of whether they had Indian blood.

Some opponents of the ballot question argued that attempts to remove freedmen from the tribe were motivated by racism.

"I'm very disappointed that people bought into a lot of rhetoric and falsehoods by tribal leaders," said Marilyn Vann, president of the Oklahoma City-based Descendants of Freedmen of Five Civilized Tribes.

Tribal officials said Saturday's vote was a matter of self-determination.

"The Cherokee people exercised the most basic democratic right, the right to vote," tribal Principal Chief Chad Smith said. "Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation. No one else has the right to make that determination."

Smith said turnout — more than 8,700 — was higher than turnout for the tribal vote on the Cherokee Nation constitution four years ago.

"On lots of issues, when they go to identity, they become things that people pay attention to," Smith said.

The petition drive for the ballot measure followed a March 2006 ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court that said an 1866 treaty assured freedmen descendants of tribal citizenship. Since then, more than 2,000 freedmen descendants have enrolled as citizens of the tribe.

Court challenges by freedmen descendants seeking to stop the election were denied, but a federal judge left open the possibility that the case could be refiled if Cherokees voted to lift their membership rights.


Mind you these people, Freedmen intermarried and raised their children up as Native Americans. SMH So many black people walk around claiming Native American heritage. When a good part of them were nothing but enslavers themselves!
http://digital.library.okstate...entries/F/FR016.html

Historical information about how The Five Civilized Tribes took their African descended slaves from the Southeast U.S. to the Midwest. Imagine our people being marched across the U.S. with their Native American 'masters' who probably had them tied up in chains etc. SMH No one knows or cares to acknowledge this history in the offending tribes or in the African-American community.
Reference:
Mind you these people, Freedmen intermarried and raised their children up as Native Americans. SMH So many black people walk around claiming Native American heritage. When a good part of them were nothing but enslavers themselves!
But that wasn't the majority though, right?  The majority of Native Americans were not slaveowners and some tribes actually helped runaways.  Not to mention Native Americans and AFricans were enslaved side by side in the early 1600's along the carolina/georgia coastal regions.
Reference:
Could this be an important precedent?


I think that the answer here is a most definate "yes".

As is the precident of reparations for japanese american internment.

 

Reference:
But that wasn't the majority though, right? The majority of Native Americans were not slaveowners and some tribes actually helped runaways. Not to mention Native Americans and AFricans were enslaved side by side in the early 1600's along the carolina/georgia coastal regions.
If they were, at some point the NA opted out of being 'slaves' and decided to own Africans. Additionally, these are the same tribes who marched across the U.S. in the trail of tears. Also the Seminoles have expelled their Freedmen. All for the purpose of money, so the wouldn't have to divide it with them.
My point here is that we need to stop buying into the fallacy that Native Americans didn't own africans as slaves and that they cannot be racists. My other point is there is no way that this is affecting African Americans quest for restitution.
I've explained my position 'no' on this, someone please explain their 'yes' position.
And the majority of white people didn't own slaves either, but we still don't like them. At least I don't.

Ricardomath, a precendent for who? For what? Yes the Japanese got their restitution money. Again, some Native Americans have been getting payments from the government for decades for the use of their land. Partially because they have written treaties that were broken. And the NA's also had Jack Abramhoff. They were not playing around with getting theirs. How exactly is this precedent going to affect any effort on the part of African Americans to get restitution for slavey and Jim Crow? Please someone explain this idea which still hasn't produced results for African-Americans.

Let's not get confused.

President Obama was addressing this issue when Presidents before him refused, and some were the exploiters in the thing.

President Obama was addressing an 'issue of law'.

Of Treaty.

Reparations for African American-Americans is a distant wish.

PEACE

Jim Chester
This has no bearing on reparations at all. This is a payoff to bring a resolution to something that has gone on for years. As JWC says, this an issue of law, namely that the government has not paid for the resources that they have taken from Indian lands without compensation.

I do not see reparations ever materializing for descendants of slaves in this country.

As for liking and not liking people, for me justice and recompense have nothing to do with liking anyone. There are quite a few white people I like, and quite a few AA's I can't stand.

Oppression is not about individual likes and dislikes, it is something structural, systemic, and institutional. Racism is not about the intentions of an individual, it is out de facto and de jure instantiation and perpetuation of power, position, and privilege in this society. While for me, the primary community for which I seek redress is the African American community, it does not prohibit me from supporting other peoples or communities in pursuing and achieving the same. So to the extent that this is a boon for my indigenous American brothers and sisters, I am happy for them.
So lemme ask you this JWC and/or kresge (or anybody else) ...

If the tribes were not their own sovereign entities, are you saying (or do you believe) that there would not have been this "payoff"?? 

I mean, technically, it comes from a lawsuit AND an incurred debt - (for damages inflicted by the government) - between nations.  The only difference between us and Native Americans (as far as such damages go) is that they were allowed to become a separate nation of people ... and we were not.

A good part of the reason why a payout of "reparations" is unlikely, but a payout of "payment" is even possible, is due to the sovereignty issue of Indian Nations.

So, I'm wondering ... if they were just 'hung out there' as we are, without a legal umbrella of 'sovereignty' covering them ... do you think this 'compensation' would have still happened? 
If the tribes were not their own sovereign entities, are you saying (or do you believe) that there would not have been this "payoff"??---EbonyRose

Precisely.

I mean, technically, it comes from a lawsuit AND an incurred debt - (for damages inflicted by the government) - between nations.  The only difference between us and Native Americans (as far as such damages go) is that they were allowed to become a separate nation of people ... and we were not.---EbonyRose

Wrong.

The American Indian Nations were not 'allowed' to become...

The American Indian Nations existed before Europeans arrived.

The United States recognizes the American Indian nations, because they could not 'make them go away'...by force...war.

Thus the United States entered into a treaty with the various nations as each such determination was made.

The damages can be quantified precisely because there is a document specifying obligations.

A good part of the reason why a payout of "reparations" is unlikely, but a payout of "payment" is even possible, is due to the sovereignty issue of Indian Nations.---Ebonyrose

True.

So, I'm wondering ... if they were just 'hung out there' as we are, without a legal umbrella of 'sovereignty' covering them ... do you think this 'compensation' would have still happened?---EbonyRose

Absolutely not.

I think that, at best, those nations would still be trying to get a federal court judge to agree that they even had a case.

Let take this opportunity point out that this obstacle was the reason I began my task with establishing an African American-American identity with the design of a flag.

Second: I created an entity...an entity...dedicated to the re-establishment of ancestral nationality.

Third:  I declared African American as an ethnicity the members of such ethnicity being American citizens.

There is an 'infrastructure' that has to exist when you want to 'get into the game'.

PEACE

Jim Chester

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