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Cobell | Opinion
Column: Free Indians of federal government control


"American Indians have agreed to take $3.4 billion of some $200 billion that tribes have said the federal government owes them for mismanagement of trust lands, and let's see -- that's more than a cent and a half on the dollar. Not as bad as it could have been when dealing with Washington bureaucrats.

But there is much more to be done, such as liberating these people bound by endless, insufferable rules and allowing them to create a prosperous destiny emanating from their own decisions, their own initiatives, their own governments.

It seems incredible at this stage of American history, when every school child is well aware of all the horrors visited on Native Americans, that the government should continue to control the lives of large numbers of them down to itsy bitsy details. That is nevertheless what is going on, owing to an untrustworthy trust system that was, to be sure, put in place out of decent motives and is still embraced by many Indians.

This federal control came about after Indians had been cheated in just about every way conceivable on reservations established in the 19th century. Wily state politicians, along with money-seekers in many guises, busily wrested their land or mineral, timber or agricultural rights away from them. With a trust system in place, these outsiders had to deal with the federal government, which tolerated no more hanky panky."

Get the Story:
Jay Ambrose: Free the Indians (Scripps Howard News Service 12/17)

Relevant Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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