"Ken Salazar, the new secretary of the Interior, faces the same tough questions as his predecessors: Drill more or drill less? Graze more or graze less? Mine more or mine less? More snowmobiling in national parks, or less?
But for an administration committed to integrating minorities into the mainstream of the American economy, Mr. Salazar will have to do more than manage natural resources. His department also oversees the poorest of all minorities: American Indians.
President Barack Obama courted the Indian vote. During the campaign, he visited Montana's Crow Reservation last May and was adopted into the tribe under the Crow name "One Who Helps People Throughout the Land." There he said, "Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans," and vowed to improve their economic opportunities, health care and education.
Two vital steps in this direction are to strengthen property rights and the rule of law on reservations. Virtually every study of international development shows that both of these are crucial to prosperity. Indian country is no different. The effect of insecure property rights is evident on a drive through any western reservation. When you see 160 acres overgrazed and a house unfit for occupancy, you can be sure the title to the land is held by the federal government bureaucracy. In contrast, when you see irrigated land in cultivation with farm implements, a barn and well-kept house, you can be sure the land is held in fee simple, whether by an Indian or non-Indian."
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Terry L. Anderson: Native Americans Need the Rule of Law
(The Wall Street Journal 3/16)