Feds to Pay Tribes $492 Million for Mismanaged Trust Funds; New Book of Ojibwe Stories; Tribes OK’ed to Collect Plants in National Parks

The mistreatment and exploitation of Native American communities is not a thing of ancient history, but has continued to the modern era. The latest example is how the federal government failed it is duty to be a good steward of the lands it was supposed to hold in trust for Native nations.

The Native American Rights Fund announced that the U.S. government has agreed to pay 17 tribes $492 million “to compensate for decades of lost income due to government mismanagement of tribal trusts.” According to its statement:

Starting with treaties signed in the 19th Century, the United States was named as trustee for large areas of tribal land.  Under the treaties, the United States was to hold the Indian lands and money for the benefit of the Native American people.  As trustee, they handled leasing the land for uses such as grazing, oil, and farming.  However, the government did not prove to be a good trustee.

A story from National Public Radio said:

The settlements mark the end of a push by the Obama administration to resolve what the U.S. says is more than 100 lawsuits totaling more than $3.3 billion brought by American Indian individuals and tribal governments against the federal government. The policy of reaching settlements on the disputes, some of which date back more than a century, is part of a campaign promise the president made to American Indians before he took office.

This is the second round of such settlements, and the total number of cases settled now is 95.

For more on a new book of Ojibwe stories and a federal rule that allows tribal members to collect plants in national parks, read on. Continue reading

Court Strikes Down ND Law that Restricted Native American Voting Rights; Other News

With the presidential election getting ever closer, time to look at efforts to restrict the voting rights of Native Americans and other people of color.

North Dakota had the strictest voter ID law in the country, according to the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). In order to vote, the law required North Dakota residents to show one of four types of IDs. According to a NARF media release:

On August 1, 2016, a federal district court enjoined North Dakota’s strict voter ID law and ruled that voters unable to obtain the necessary identification may vote in the upcoming election by completing a declaration or affidavit. The court agreed with the seven Native American voters that the new law disproportionately burdens Native Americans and denies qualified voters the right to vote.

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First Native American Jurist Appointed to Minnesota Supreme Court and Other News

Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court, the first Native American appointed to the state’s highest court.

The Star Tribune and other outlets report that McKeig is “a descendant of White Earth Nation.” Huh!? That seems like a bizarre way to say it. Are they trying to give the impression that while McKeig is a descendant of White Earth, she is not claiming it herself? Are they trying to say that White Earth Nation is gone, and all that are left are the descendants?

I don’t know how the “descendant of White Earth” language got rolling, but let’s go with the more straight forward description published on line from St. Catherine University, McKeig’s alma mater. “McKeig is a member of the American Indian Bar Association, and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation.”

McKeig specialized in child protection and Indian welfare issues, according to the Star Tribune. Also, the Minnesota Supreme Court now has a majority of women for the first time since 1991.

Keep reading below for:

  • Native American sue for voting rights in North Dakota
  • A book review of ‘An American Genocide’
  • The Washington Cathedral to remove Confederate Battle Flags from stained glass windows (think Minnesota State Capitol)
  • Ancient Mexican Temple Damaged

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