Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

US Coyote at Work: Trust Fund Settlement Scam

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Updated with responses Dec. 13, 2009

The same US government that brought us the home mortgage, seize-everything-you-have scam, and the bail-out-the-billionaires programs, now says it will benevolently buy up Indian land and give it back to Indians?
In the so-called settlement of the US Trust Fund lawsuit, the US says it plans to buy up Indian parcels and give the land back to Indian Nations.
The US has also made a big deal out of $1,000 or $1,500 payments to land owners for all the resources it has stolen.
What a joke. It is a bizarre agreement which prevents the US from paying Indian people what they are owed.
To sweeten the deal, the US says it will set up an Indian education scholarship fund. Yes, that one has been used before too, by Ben (Nighthorse) Campbell, who eventually admitted it was a scam.
Who would monitor all this benevolence? The US of course.
This "sweet" deal, which still must go before Congress and a federal judge, comes on the heels of the IRS auctioning off Crow Creek Sioux land.
Now, the US says: "Just trust us."
The US wasn't the only one benefiting from the stolen resources and missing funds from Indian energy resources.
Thanks to Interior Department whistleblowers, we know that the underpayment for energy leases on Indian lands meant enormous wealth for energy companies, including oil and gas corporations drilling on Navajo Nation land in southeastern Utah.
While the money disappeared in Interior sinkholes, and energy corporations became fat cats, Navajos living around the oil and gas drilling became sick from the toxins in their land, water and air. Many Navajos still live without running water and electricity.
Another scam carried out was by power plant coal companies whose weight scales showed less coal than was actually being taken from Navajo lands in New Mexico. This fact was exposed by a former director of the Arizona Dept. of Weights and Measures.
With this history, why would anyone trust the US government and the Interior Department?
Reader responses to settlement:
--Beads and trinkets ... We asked for tribal leadership and the best legal minds and this is what we received? Sad day for Indian Country.
--Cowboy Banks Get Big Bucks as Indians Get Little:
--Very sad and an embarrassment to all who have any sense of right and wrong.
--Only 300,000 Native Americans holding IIM trust fund accounts will share this settlement, if you don't receive an annual 27 cent lease check, you receive nothing. I assume that the period starts when the BIA took over mismanaging the lease income. It doesn't include any other controversies involving treaty violations, it only applies to the BIA's ... See Moremismanagement of these IIM accounts.
I remember clearly that when Ms. Cobell started this lawsuit, no one said a word; I voiced my concerns about its effect on treaty claims. If you read the report on her website, you'll see that it only deals with BIA mismanagement of IIM trust funds.
And when the Cobell checks are disbursed, the people don't have to sign them if they don't agree with the Cobell checks.
My next question that I'll have to ask is whether the land that the tribes have been buying from individual Indians means that the tribe will receive Cobell checks.
--I think the settlement is seriously flawed and is a ripoff for our ancestors who waited ... waited ... and waited for their lease checks only to discover it was a small amount. My mother and father went through this every year before Christmas. They were surely disappointed because they had to feed 13 children for the year.
Response to NARF, Native American Rights Fund, applauding the agreement:
--Saw where John Echohawk is pleased with this settlement. Amazes me. Our people get ripped off and our "leaders" are "pleased." Now on to deal with the tribal trust funds that have more than 5 times that amount involved. Lets see if these leaders get tickled white over it. Stunned by the acceptance of this theft. Our people have been turned into beggars for their own money and "leaders" are pleased. Decolonialize your mind ... its our peoples money and your are pleased that 34 billion was successfully stolen ? Whose side you on? Take of that colonial suit and be indigenous. As long as we respond and act like beggars we will be teated like beggars.
--Good for NARF ... a lot of the people don't agree. When you have the attitude that it is better than nothing you leave your self open to always taking better than nothing -- a beggars stance. A lot of our people are not beggars and rightly see a 1/10 award with 30+ billion left on the table as more theft. When leaders condone more theft they ask for more theft. Yes the tribal trust is coming and it will be more theft if this is any indication ... leader approved fat takers. I applaud those who have their own minds still and see it for what it is: A knife in the back ... pulled ten percent out and called progress.
--$47 billion gonna pay $1.4 and then use $2 billion to buy our lands ... dayum ... the fat takers are at work!!
--Sounds like "fork tongue"
--The answer would be, NO. Trust fund of a broke government. Heck of a deal!
--$2 billion to buy land from us? How much more land do they want to take away from us? They need to give back what was taken already, not thinking of making our reservations even smaller. --fat takers
--Affirmative! They can start by transferring national forest/federal lands adjacent to reservations back into tribal trust lands
--Do we have any tribal leadership that is going to back our interests? Or is it status quo?
--That is just a drop in the bucket as far as I am concerned. That is only a portion of the interest that they are paying. The caretakers say their rent is way over due.
--What is the "buy land from Native Americans" mean ... or is it "naive" american's
--What about (1) the interest lost and (2) a penalty of mismanagement! Did I read individuals will receive $1,500? I wonder how much the lawyers will get off the top?
--Hey, you know that's a fat chunk off the top but let's get the land back to start with eh.
--A prophecy says we will get our land back. It is just detail right now.
--This deal smells as sweet as cow patties.
--This had to come at some point, and of course Indians are getting the fuzzy end of the lolly pop! Was there ever any question about the outcome?
--I'm surprised they didn't throw in pox blankets with this one.

News article on settlement:


london said...

The US has also made a big deal out of $1,000 or $1,500 payments to land owners for all the resources it has stolen...its really a great joke.......LOL......

Michael Mack said...

I believe that anyone who knows the FACTS of this legal history would agree that the payments are a joke, and that compensation should also come in other forms such as requiring the U.S. Department of Education and all state education departments to teach the whole truth about the legal abuse over hundreds of years inflicted by the U.S. government and how Americans looked the other way, or contributed to the abuse in all its forms. The reality is that just as in Nazi Germany many of the "good" Germans who claimed they had Jewish friends also turned away when the SS came to take the Jews to concentration camps and then benefitted from the confiscation and distribution of Jews' property and personal belongings - the story in America is essentially no different, except that here the whites were the beneficiaries at the expense of the Indians. Ultimately, the only difference in this sad but unrecognized history is that the Nazis lost the war and Germany was made accountable by the international communities for what its government and the "good" Germans allowed to happen. The U.S. won its war of conquest and as the saying goes "the victor writes the history" even though most of us know the history that is taught is far from the truth.

Also ignored by U.S. apologists is that Indians have complained since 1887 about these "trust" issues to each presidential administration, democrat and republican, and each Congress for over 100 years, and were always excluded from any official discussions until the Clinton administration. It is understandable that no government official wanted to negotiate a large financial settlement under his tenure, but the larger issue is: what does this lack of accountability by the U.S. really tell us about the moral character of a government and its people who choose to ignore an issue so fundamental to the very existence of the nation?

If this situation had occurred to any group of white people the situation would have been resolved long ago, but since it only happened to Indians…it has never been a priority by the U.S. government to get resolved. This lack of resolution was aided by ignorance of the facts by the general American public, and when finally confronted with them, refusal to accept the facts for what they are.

So finally there is a tentative resolution… a very bittersweet POTENTIAL resolution indeed, because ultimately the biggest loser is the moral character of the U.S. government and the American people who will have avoided another opportunity to learn from this chapter of injustice in its history and missed another opportunity to start to learn what true reconcilation can produce in the building of moral character.

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