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Opinion
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people


"Increasingly in recent times, national Indian efforts have been weakened or thwarted by one, two or a dozen tribes striking out on their own for a better deal; not for everyone, but for themselves only.

The backstory to this series of Senate hearings is that certain tribal leaders paid top dollar to bottom feeders to do the dirty work of elevating their tribes by keeping others down. While a few of these tribal leaders are victims, others are just being portrayed as victims in order to get the pit bulls off the streets.

By contrast, the trust funds lawsuit and the settlement principles are united Indian efforts to gain some justice and some cash for Indian people who own property and haven't seen all or any income from leases and sales handled by the federal government.

Over the course of nine years of litigation, some tribal leaders have joined forces with federal bureaucrats and politicians to try to kill the trust funds case by legislative fiat. They have lobbyists and lawyers on their payroll who will soon start circling the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and other congressional offices with the hope of undermining legislation based on the proposed principles.

The senators and representatives should close their doors to the tribal leaders and their paid naysayers who don't like these principles but don't have any of their own.

Tribal leaders who are considering pouring money into Washington lobbyists' pockets to fight legislation based on the proposed principles should instead put it in the hands of their tribal people who need it and may not live to see any settlement monies."

Get the Story:
Harjo: Trust matters - Money and Indian unity (Indian Country Today 6/23)

Relevant Documents:
Trust Reform and Cobell Settlement Workgroup Principles for Legislation (June 2005)

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org
Intertribal Trust Fund Monitoring Association - http://www.itmatrustfunds.org
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov

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