Documents prove government theft of Indian wealth
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 7 15:32:58 MST 2003
NY Times, Jan. 7, 2002
American Indians Say Government Has Cheated Them Out of Billions
By JOEL BRINKLEY
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 More than 300,000 American Indians gave a federal
judge a detailed court filing today based on private historical records
asserting that the government had cheated them out of as much as $137.2
billion over the last 115 years.
The court action marked a significant turn in the largest class-action suit
ever filed by Indians against the federal government and showed just what
kind of sums are at stake.
For generations Indians have complained that the federal government has
lost or stolen millions of dollars earned on tribal lands. And for decade
after decade the government has ignored or disputed those contentions while
failing to offer detailed accounts of how much money has been raised from
oil and mineral, timber and grazing leases, proceeds of which go into a
trust fund for the Indians' benefit.
The conflict dating from 1887 escalated into a lawsuit that the Indians
filed against the Department of the Interior in June 1996. In the six years
since, the standoff has become ever more bitter, documents have been
destroyed and interior and Treasury secretaries have been held in contempt
of court. But until now the Indians' evidence of loss was largely anecdotal.
"We just knew there was a lot of money missing," said Tex Hall, president
of the National Congress of American Indians and the leader of his tribe,
the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota. "Elders would come
to me and say, `Tex, I got money last year but didn't get any this year.'
There was so much variation in the system that we know something was wrong."
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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