Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammy’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy’s neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia’s dog, or Claudia Eagle’s Cats. This Tammy’s Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.
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The reason native Americas remain in poverty, and have little chance of
getting out of poverty.
Chief Justice John Marshall set Native Americans on the path to poverty in 1831 when he characterized the relationship between Indians and the government as “resembling that of a ward to his guardian.” With these words, Marshall established the federal trust doctrine, which assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. That trusteeship continues today, but it has not served Indians well.
Underlying this doctrine is the notion that tribes are not capable of owning or managing their lands. The government is the legal owner of all land and assets in Indian Country and is required to manage them for the benefit of Indians. So like usual the “white man’s” greed took over. And the laws were crafted to help whites and hinder Indians.
But because Indians do not generally own their land or homes on reservations, they cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans. This makes it incredibly difficult to start a business in Indian Country. Even tribes with valuable natural resources remain locked in poverty. Their resources amount to “dead capital”—unable to generate growth for tribal communities.
Nearly every aspect of economic development is controlled by federal agencies. All development projects on Indian land must be reviewed and authorized by the government, a process that is notoriously slow and burdensome. On Indian lands, companies must go through at least four federal agencies and 49 steps to acquire a permit for energy development. Off reservation, it takes only four steps. This bureaucracy prevents tribes from capitalizing on their resources.
It’s not uncommon for years to pass before the necessary approvals are acquired to begin energy development on Indian lands—a process that takes only a few months on private lands. So why does the government treat Indians so bad compared to white people? At any time, if an agency decides to be hateful or just vindictive an agency may demand more information or shut down development, just because they can. Simply completing a title search can cause delays. Indians have waited six years to receive title search reports that other Americans can get in just a few days. The way our government treats Indians is shameful.
The result is that many investors avoid Indian lands altogether. When development does occur, federal agencies are involved in every detail, even collecting payments on behalf of tribes. The royalties are then distributed back to Indians—that is, if the government doesn’t lose the money in the process. This has happened many times.
Reservations have a complex legal framework that hinders economic growth. Thanks to the legacy of federal control, reservations have complicated legal and property systems that are detrimental to economic growth. Jurisdiction and land ownership can vary widely on reservations as a result of the government’s allotment policies of the nineteenth century. Navigating this complex system makes development and growth difficult on Indian lands.
One such difficulty is called fractionated land ownership. Federal inheritance laws required many Indian lands to be passed in equal shares to multiple heirs. After several generations, these lands have become so fractionated that there are often hundreds of owners per parcel. Managing these fractionated lands is nearly impossible, and much of the land remains idle.
Tribes historically had little or no control over their energy resources. Royalties were set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the agency consistently undervalued Indian resources. A federal commission concluded in 1977 that leases negotiated on behalf of Indians were “among the poorest agreements ever made.” Keeping the Indians poor and making white men and their corporations rich. Yet the Indians continue to suffer and live in horrible poverty. And government overseeing is zero.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much better in this century either. A recent class action suit alleged that the government mismanaged billions of dollars in Indian assets. The case settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion—far less than what was lost by the feds. Reservations contain valuable natural resources worth nearly $1.5 trillion, according to a recent estimate. But the vast majority of these resources remain undeveloped because the federal government gets in the way. The outside world should not try and control the reservations, or dictate to the indians what they should do with their properties.”
As long as tribes are denied the right to control their own resources, they will remain locked in poverty and dependence. But if tribes are given the dignity they deserve, they will have the opportunity to unleash the tremendous wealth of Indian nations.
The white man took away the Indians way of life and gave them the crappiest land there was to try and farm, then when the land that was given was found to be valuable the white man tried to take it away so the white man could get rich and the Indians would be ripped off again.
The white mans treatment of the Indians has been ruthless to say the least. The broken promises and broken treaty’s only shows shame that the US should be feeling and showing regarding the treatment of the Indian people, but unfortunately even after several hundred years the United States of America still treats the native Americans like second class citizens. Maybe some day thus country will respect and treat Native Americans as equals which they are.