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Historian 11-13-2006 11:31 AM

Rosebud Sioux Tribe votes against passage of trust reform act
RST votes against passage of trust reform act, could be first step to termination
Dr. Archie B. Beauvais, Correspondent
Lakota Country Times - 10 November 2006

ROSEBUD, SD - In a regular scheduled council meeting held on Oct. 31, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council unanimously passed resolution number 2006-288 opposing the passage of U. S. Senate Bill 1439 the Indian Trust Reform Act of 2004.

Antelope district council representative, Robert D. Moore, led the discussion in describing the implications of the proposed legislation which he noted is intended to resolve the Cobell v. Kempthorne class action suit which was originally filed earlier as Cobell v. Norton. Moore explained that any resolution of the Cobell litigation is seen as a first step by the Bush Administration to terminate tribes.

The resolution takes note of the fact that SB 1439 would extinguish any further mismanagement claims against the federal government, establish a settlement fund, and generally limit the liability of the U. S. government for a transition period to allow land consolidation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe objects to the fact that the legislation was drafted and introduced without an opportunity for RST to analyze it, comment on it and without proper consultation with the tribe.

Furthermore, Senator McCain and Senator Byron Dorgan have not approved any changes to the legislation and have asked their staff to consult with Indian country and RST wants to be included in that consultation.

Any effort to ignore consultation with RST on a government to government basis is seen as infringing upon tribal sovereignty.

Cheyenne River Sioux tribal chairman, Harold Frazier, told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs meeting in Rapid City on October 25, "The administration continues to try to punish our tribal nations for the individual Indians who stood up and made the federal government accountable in Cobell. How can this Administration seek to end the trust responsibility which the government has never fulfilled? How can they seek to include tribal claims in the settlement when we do not yet know the extent of those claims?

The federal government created these problems; they should admit their shame and embarrassment and seek to finally fulfill their responsibilities, not end those responsibilities."

On Monday, Nov. 6, Senator Tim Johnson and Rep. Stephanie Herseth were present at a feed in Mission at the SGU multipurpose building. It was a rally intended to bring the state's Democratic leadership to the area to support local Democrats running for state office, such as Larry Lucas, Julie Bartling, and Ron Volesky.

Representative Moore asked Sen. Johnson about the President's efforts to settle all claims with Indian tribes and ultimately terminate them. Johnson said, "My view is that we need to be consultative with tribes and block Senator McCain's bill, which I have done…, there has to be a settlement as agreed to by tribes. We should not use it to attack tribal sovereignty." Johnson went on to say, "There is a new power here in South Dakota and it is called the Indian vote…,a new sense of power and opportunity.

“A government to government relationship, a trust responsibility to be upheld and honored." Rep. Herseth said, "I agree with Senator Johnson. I have opposed what Sen. McCain and Sen. Pombo have put forth."

In its role as trustee of Native lands, the United States has a responsibility to protect tribal self-government, provide services to Indian communities and to protect the land and resources of Native people. This trust responsibility is derived from formal treaty making with Indian tribes and thus, a government to government relationship has been reaffirmed over and over.

The federal government holds title to trust land for tribal governments as well as individual Indian people, and as such, it also holds any money that is derived from the land in trust.
When the original class action suit was filed, it was alleged that the U. S. government was, indeed, unable to account for billions of dollars that it held in trust.

The suit was filed by individual Indian money holders and some of the same issues that tribes faced back then, still prevail.

For example, in the original settlement plan as proposed by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, she submitted a plan which failed to consult with Indian tribal nations and that remains a critical issue in any future settlement. It should be noted that the National Congress of American Indians has been very active in their role to mediate the issue.

Finally, if is true that the Bush Administration has been reluctant to follow its trust responsibility by redefining its role, the implications should make Lakota people and their respective tribal governments very nervous.

The Democratic Policy Committee in Oct. 7, 2004 wrote, "Tribal leaders and scholars believe that certain new policies advanced by the Bush Administration will have a corrosive effect on the trust relationship, diminish the federal trust responsibility and possibly lead to tribal termination.

These observers report the administration's proposals to "privatize" the provision of health care services to Indians, "outsource" the administration of schools now operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and "waive" sovereign immunity in business transactions with energy development on Indian lands."

Moore added, "The Rosebud Sioux Tribe with all the Great Sioux Nations, are recognized as leaders in the right to preserve sovereignty, promote treaty rights and the restoration of our land base.

“We will continue to lead the fight in response to this assault on sovereignty and treaty rights."

between2worlds 11-13-2006 12:38 PM

It is estimated that the federal government has managed to "lose" 900 BILLION dollars of ndn money. The tribes should get the money that is owed them PERIOD. Enough backpeddling and stupid shenanigans.

For the record: yes, I'm a taxpayer and no, I wouldn't benefit from the repayments.

It's about what is the RIGHT thing to do. The federal government made the promises. The promises were broken. When promises are broken, restitution is what is required as just compensation. This is what our legal system is supposedly founded on.

Tonight after work, I'm sending email to every Senator on the hill urging that they oppose this bill. While my voice is only one voice, perhaps others will see this link to the contact info for the US Senate and join in calling for the defeat of this wrong headed legislation!


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