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Lance Morgan: Federal trust land policy hurts tribes

Ed. Note: Lance Morgan is CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com and its sister e-commerce site

"The era of federal tribal trust land must end. It no longer makes any sense and it doesn't even work.

It also serves as the single largest impediment to Indian country's economic growth and tribal sovereignty.

The 120-year-old underlying rationales for trust land are gone. So why do we have it? I really can't think of a good reason.

The federal government has a general trust and treaty obligation to Indian country that encompasses health, education and housing. These obligations must be honored. However, this obligation doesn't need to include controlling all of our land, its usage and its natural resources.

Because the trust obligation and trust land sound so similar, we tend to think of them as symbiotic and vital to tribal status. But trust land doesn't confer any special benefits. And it isn't part of our culture. We just have been living with it so long that we have quit questioning its underlying logic.

We shouldn't be trying to protect trust land status. On the contrary, the very name and concept of trust land should be offensive to us. The only time you have a trust for someone is when the person is too young, irresponsible or considered mentally incompetent - ouch, all of us?"

Get the Story:
Lance Morgan: Ending the curse of trust land (Indian Country Today 3/18)

Relevant Links:
Winnebago Tribe -
Ho-Chunk Inc. -

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