[R-G] FCNL: Indian Families Due Billions; Repayment Possible With Action
james m nordlund
realiteee1 at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 26 20:54:18 MDT 2005
Indian Families Due Billions; Repayment Possible With Your Action - FCNL
President Bush repeatedly says, "We ought to trust people with their own
money." We encourage him to expand his thinking to include Native
whose land profits are held (and withheld) by the federal government.
American Indians were not trusted to manage their own money. Instead, the
federal government took charge in 1887 but has made such a horrendous mess
of the Indian land trust accounts that the Senate Committee on
Affairs found it to be one of the two worst government management scandals
in U. S. history.
Senators McCain (AZ) and Dorgan (ND) have introduced the Indian Trust
Act of 2005 (S. 1439) to repay as many as 500,000 American Indians whose
money "disappeared" while in government accounts. It is morally
that this bill be taken seriously by congressional leadership and the
Act Now: Urge your senators to cosponsor S. 1439 and this one-time
opportunity to remedy a stark and long-standing financial injustice. If
senators are already cosponsors, thank them and ask them to talk to their
colleagues about this bill.
See FCNL's web site for a sample letter,
http://capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=7968506. Please take the
to personalize the sample letter and tell your senators who you are and
you care about this issue.
Background: Native families have been deprived of land and lease revenues
for over a century, keeping many in stark poverty generation after
generation. Financial audits, congressional and Government Accountability
Office reports, and media investigations document that billions of dollars
have been mismanaged and misappropriated. The U.S. District Court for
District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals both have ruled in
of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders during the past
The district court judge has held three cabinet officers in contempt of
court. At last, Congress is considering paying the debt. FCNL will
vigorously support those efforts if the settlements are just. Your help
will be crucial if justice is to occur.
Even knowing what we know of the U.S. dismal legacy in Indian affairs, the
details of this scandal are still shocking, especially as we learn that
abuses continue into the present. Congressional audits as early as 1915
showed mismanaged, lost, and pilfered Indian trust funds. Government
agencies such as Interior and Treasury departments also put the money of
Indian families into the general funds of the U.S. Frequently, Interior
not bother to collect the land-use money owed to Indian families from
corporations or non-natives. Indian land was sold without permission.
now, hackers can get into Interior computers and the IIM accounts. Since
the start of a class action case brought nine years ago by Elouise Cobell
rectify the situation, hundreds of Interior's boxes of trust records have
been lost or destroyed.
Interior officials continue to resist liability and repayment, but many in
Congress are practical about "clearing the books" and others are concerned
about ethical and legal responsibilities. All agree that reform is needed
and some amount of repayment is required. S. 1439 proposes to take the
billions owed from the off-budget Claims Judgment Fund which is used when
the federal government makes mistakes and loses cases.
For more information, see FCNL's web site,
Notice: the FCNL office will be closed for vacation from August 29 until
Congress returns from the August recess September 6 to face an agenda
with issues of concern to FCNL: The Senate is expected to vote on the
permanent repeal of the estate tax and may act on the USA PATRIOT Act in
early September. Military authorization and appropriations bills still
pending in the Senate may include provisions concerning the war in Iraq,
nuclear weapons, and torture. The Senate may also consider legislation
could cut U.S. dues to the U.N. There may be legislation in the House to
block opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas
exploration and budget reconciliation bills due in mid-September that
cut programs that serve poor and low-income households. Check the FCNL web
site for updates, www.fcnl.org.
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