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Old 12-14-2011, 11:59 PM   #7
AmigoKumeyaay
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(From Readers Comments section following Forbes article)

atagahi 9 hours ago

With all due respect, your ignorance of Indian history, culture and federal Indian law is overwhelming in your simplistic solution for Indian Country. Itís not entirely your fault as your schooling surely didnít teach you the complex set of laws and regulations that comprise federal Indian law.

Do you really think that none of these have been tried before? The reason that Allotment didnít work anywhere it was tried was because non-Indians cheated Indians out of the allotted lands so quickly that it made the poverty worse, not better.

Angie Debo found that within 20 years of the Dawes Act being forced on the tribes in Oklahoma, nearly every parcel had been separated by fraud and swindle from Indian hands. (I believe it was 97%, but it has been a while since I read the book.)

Similar situations occurred everywhere privatization of land rights was foisted on Indian people. Although fractionation is a problem, removing Indian lands from Trust is not the answer. (There is private land ownership, but it is held in trust by the U.S. for Indians.)

Nor is divesting Indian court systems of jurisdiction, something done methodically and to the detriment of Indian people by the Supreme Court.

Such ill-fated and ignorant solutions come from residual racism about Indian people and Indian cultures that have different ways of doing things and resolving disputes. Just because they donít always resemble non-Indian courts or produce the regularity that non-Indian businesses want, doesnít mean they are inferior or donít service their people the way the people democratically prefer. It is no different than doing business in a foreign country, which businesses do all the time without insisting the U.S. change the individual nations.

Also, please consider that many tribes donít want to see the horrific damage that is done to their land to tear out the mineral resources that non-Indians want to plunder. The BIA is notoriously bad at negotiating market rates and getting the money to the individual land owners, as well. There is a long, sordid history about mineral and gas rights that should be a caution to the author, if he took the time to learn the history.

Instead, if you want to see positive changes, then undo the damage done by the Supreme Court in removing tax jurisdiction by tribes over their own lands for non-Indians.

It is the inability to compete with states and local governments to attract businesses to reservations that is the cause of the lack of businesses and employment.

If a business decides to build a factory on a reservation there is a complicated jurisdictional analysis that has to be computed based on who owns the land and who owns the company. If it isnít exactly right by Supreme Court standards, the state gets to tax the business and the wages of the workers instead of the tribe, depriving the tribe of vital revenue to improve the reservations and the plight of their people. The state gets to collect taxes on the wages of the Indian people who are working on their reservation, instead of going back to the tribe to improve the reservation.

As for Mr. Fergusonís comment, please do research before castigating tribesí economic development plans.

1) Most tribesí reservations were purposefully placed far from urban centers. People rarely drive to the distant reservations to gamble.

2) Not all tribes have gaming. Of the ones that do, not all have successful gaming because of the lack of proximity to urban centers. There are a very few that make enough money to pull an entire tribe out of the poverty, much less create new businesses.

3) States fight gaming, even though they technically should not have a say in what goes on, on a reservation. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prevents tribes from offering different types of gaming that are different from what a state offers. That severely hampers the amount of revenue that comes in from gaming for a tribe.

4) Some tribes are doing well using gaming revenue to create new businesses. But they are the ones located in the right places with the right types of gaming rights.

My own tribe has limited gaming but does well with its casinos. Even so, they only produce 17% of our annual budget. Our other businesses produce the rest, with U.S. grants and programs. Most of our money goes into healthcare of our people because the federal government never fully funds the Indian Health Service (something else you could seek to change).

I appreciate both of your concern for our people. There are problems presents which you see. We are not too ignorant to find our own solutions. We could use some political help to clear out the morass of government laws and regulations that deprive us of the ability to soar on our own volition. That is where you can help us. Let us make the decisions about businesses and property rights on our own.
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