Tag Archives: Native American

A Victory for Natives? … James Warren a repost


James Warren – James Warren is a journalist who worked for the Chicago Tribune, writes columns for the New York Times and Business Week and is a political analyst for MSNBC.

Jun 7 2010, 12:21 PM ET | Comment

Mistreatment of Indians is America’s Original Sin, and the narrative is consistent. They lose their land, get portrayed as caricatures of social maladies, and are ripped off by the likes of Jack Abramoff. So it’s no surprise that a tale with a very different ending, namely the righting of a horrible wrong affecting 500,000 Native Americans, proceeds with virtually no notice.Indeed, you’d think that even Tea Party diehards should rally to this cause, given their anti-government and pro-property rights passion. They might even want to pay homage to the intrepid female accountant-turned-banker, who inspired one of the most fiercely litigated disputes against the federal government in history. But they likely won’t. Who will? Not even many Indians believe that belated fairness is now on the way, given more than a century of government abuse and deceit whose undisputed facts strain credulity.The facts are these: Following the House’s approval, the Senate is considering whether to approve a $3.4 billion settlement of a 15-year-old lawsuit, alleging the government illegally withheld more than $150 billion from Indians whose lands were taken in the 1880s to lease to oil, timber, minerals and other companies for a fee. Back then, the government started breaking up reservations, accumulating over 100 million acres, giving individual Indians 80 to 160 acres each, and taking legal title to properties placed in one of two trusts. The Indians were given beneficial ownership but the government managed the land, believing Indians couldn’t handle their affairs. With leases for oil wells in Oklahoma, resorts in Palm Springs, and rights-of-ways for roads in Scottsdale, Arizona, some descendants of original owners receive six- and even seven-figure sums annually. But the prototypical beneficiary, now poised to share in the settlement, is a poor Dakotan who struggles to afford propane to heat his quarters and has been receiving as little as $20 a year. More than $400 million a year is collected from Indian lands and paid into U.S. Treasury account 14X6039.

The story turns on theft and incompetence by the Interior and Treasury Departments, with culprits including Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the same Minerals Management Service now at the center of the BP oil spill fiasco. Over the past 100 years, government record systems lost track of more than 40 million acres and who owns them. The records simply vanished. Meanwhile, documents were lost in fires and floods, buried in salt mines or found in an Albuquerque storage facility covered by rat feces and a deadly Hantavirus. Government officials exploited computer systems with no audit trails to turn Indian proceeds into slush funds but maintain plausible deniability.

The lack of accountability is confirmed in the government’s own reports and testimony dating to the early 20th century. Conclusions of “fraud,” “corruption,” “institutional incompetence,” “deficiencies in accounting,” “the accounts lack credibility,” “multifaceted monster,” “organizational nightmare,” “dismal history of inaction,” “criminal negligence,” and “sorry history of department mismanagement,” are found regularly between 1915 and the present.  Congress ordered an accounting in 1994 but interior secretaries in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations were held in civil contempt for not forking over records. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Texas Republican nominated by President Reagan who oversaw the case for a decade, called the whole matter “government irresponsibility in its purest form.”

I sat in Lamberth’s courtroom in 1999 when Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt both lost his cool and conceded that the government couldn’t provide accurate cash balances of most accounts and that “the fiduciary obligation of the United States is not being fulfilled.” But the dispute would not end, as the Clinton and Bush administrations fought unceasing adverse rulings in a case inspiring 3,600 separate court filings and 80 published decisions. No single case, including the antitrust action against Microsoft, has been as heavily litigated and defended by the government, say lawyers.

The government’s chief nemesis has been Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the accountant-turned-banker who in 1987 started Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank on a reservation. With a very small team of attorneys led by a Washington banking specialist, Dennis Gingold, her suit has inspired 3,600 court filings and 80 published decisions. Not even the antirust action against Microsoft was as heavily litigated by the government.

The historic resistance melded with an unsympathetic appeals court often overruling the dispute’s two trial judges. It ordered removal of Lamberth, now the district court’s chief judge, due to harsh language toward the government. Last year, it threw out a ruling by District Judge James Robertson, Lamberth’s successor, that the Indians were owed $476 million, a pittance compared to the reduced, $48 billion they were seeking by then. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both urged settlement during the 2008 campaign.

A resolute Judge Robertson then hauled Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and plaintiffs into his chambers last year. He made clear to one and all that, in light of the latest appeals court ruling, both sides had the choice between spending maybe another 10 years in court or trying to finally settle. The initial atmosphere was not necessarily conducive to harmony. Career government employees in the Interior, Justice and Treasury departments felt burned after years of being belittled by both the plaintiffs and Judge Lamberth. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs had minimal trust in the government. But political appointees in the Obama administration, including Salazar and Attorney General Eric Holder, took their cue from President Obama’s own support of a settlement. Dozens of meetings ensued, with the many prickly issues including how far back in time one would go to try to determine who should benefit.

Ultimately, Judge Robertson prodded what, given all the legal setbacks, is an impressive $3.4 billion deal announced in December. Ironically, before the recent congressional recess, the House approved the deal and Robertson announced his retirement, meaning District Judge Thomas Hogan becomes the third, and hopefully final, arbiter in the case. He would oversee a so-called “fairness hearing” in which objections can be raised.

There is inherent complexity in wrapping up. If the Senate approves, there will be a media campaign throughout Indian Country, including direct mail, newspaper and broadcast public service advertisements. Garden City Group of Melville, New York, which handled the major class action against Enron, will be claims administrator. It will get computer lists from the Interior Department, with the account information of perhaps 500,000 Indians and then doublecheck names and addresses. How good are the records? Nobody is really sure.

The $3.4 billion will be placed in a still-to-be-selected bank and $1.4 billion will go to individuals, mostly in the form of checks ranging from $500 to $1,500. A small group, such as members of the Osage tribe who benefit from huge Oklahoma oil revenues, will get far more, based on a formula incorporating their 10 highest years of income between 1985 and 2009. As important, $2 billion will be used to buy trust land from Indian owners at fair market prices, with the government finally returning the land to tribes. Nobody can be forced to sell. As for the winning lawyers, their take is capped at $100 million, actually low by class-action standards, though Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, has groused about the fees.

The fairness hearing will be interesting since many Indians have a hard time believing they’re not still being shafted. “This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling,” writes a member of the Upper Midwest’s Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe on a message board. He’s not alone. Like a family victimized by homicide, Indians may never experience enough healing to truly recover. But, finally, as hard as it is for them to believe, there really may be some justice.

P/CPoint edit…there were many responses to this article by Mr. Warren; but the one response  I had to add is…below;
from …ThomsMWabnum
My article was reference in yours. This is the complete article as posted in other websites. Thank you for posting it.First, I would like to thank Ms. Cobell for the strength and courage to fight the U.S. on our behalf for the past 13 years.
This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling. This lawsuit maybe settled but the mismanagement and corruption continues. The centuries old broken government trust is still broken. The IIM accounts are still not reconciled. Some IIM accountholders will get paid and some will not. OST has violated the Indian Preference policy and hire non-Indians in Indian positions. The Cobell and numerous investigations on DOI/BIA/OST by OIG, GAO and the courts that proved numerous times they are either unwilling or unable to fix their broken trust. They went unpunished and will continue to operate into the future as if nothing happened. As if Indian Affairs has not been ‘commissioned’ to death, this settlement adds another one.
If all Individual Indian lands are bought off and transferred over to tribal trust property, the same historical broken trust is there not to protect it or improve it. The same slumlord mentality, scalawag management and Judge Roy Bean justice prevails all because we are Native Americans.
The U.S. did send a message to Indians in Cobell. They will extend Indian claims in courts indefinitely until the claimants die, exhaust funding and cave into perennial stonewalling.
The historical damage done to Native people, their land and money goes unchecked and without consequence. Not one employee faced criminal charges, was removed or fired for deliberately wasting billions in taxpayer’s dollars in cover up schemes. The U.S. won’t even apologize for inflicting termination and terrorism on the people they are legally bound to protect. At least, Canada and Australia apologized to the Natives of their countries.
After the starting Judge and court appointed investigators proved that DOI/BIA/OST wasted billions of dollars trying to fix the broken trust they too were removed from the case. The U.S. were found in contempt of court for lying to a federal judge, filing false reform reports, destroying records and for 13 years of federal failure. Honest American federal employees who reported such fraud, waste and abuse termed “whistleblowers” were also squeezed out of service and replaced with puppets.
“On June 20, 1867, Congress established the Indian Peace Commission to negotiate peace with Plains Indian tribes who were warring with the United States. The official report of the Commission to the President of the United States, dated January 7, 1868, describe detailed histories of the causes of the Indian Wars including: numerous social and legal injustices to Indians, repeated violations of numerous Treaties, acts of corruption by many of the local agents, and culpability of Congress itself for failing to fulfill certain legal obligations. The report asserts that the Indian Wars were completely preventable had the United States government and its representatives acted with legal and moral honesty in dealing with the Indians.”
In short, this 1867 Commission also “recommended that the intercourse laws with Indian Tribes be thoroughly revised.” This sounds like trust reform to me.
Second, “But it is insisted that the present Indian service is corrupt, and this change should be made to get rid of the dishonest. That there are many bad men connected with the service cannot be denied. The records are abundant to show that gents have pocketed the funds appropriated by the government and driven the Indians to starvation.” And still today, the U.S. Courts, it’s investigators, GAO and OIG all exposed corrupt employees in Indian Affairs.
Third, “That Congress pass an act fixing a day (not later than the 1st of February, 1869) when the offices of all superintendents, agents, and special agents shall be vacated. Such persons as have proved themselves competent and faithful may be reappointed. Those who have proved unfit will find themselves removed without an opportunity to divert attention from their own unworthiness by provisions of party zeal.” This 1867 Commission told the President how to get rid of corrupt employees and even today it has not been done. Why?
Fourth, “We, therefore, recommend that Indian affairs be committed to an independent bureau or department. Whether the head of the department should be made a member of the President’s cabinet is a matter for the discretion of Congress and yourself, and may be as well settled without any suggestions from us.” This 1867 Commission told the President that there should be a Department of Indian Affairs separate from the Department of Interior.
Two other recommendations by this 1867 Commission talked about State encroachment on tribal sovereignty and shady traders.”
In 1973, Senator James Abourezk introduced Senate Joint Resolution No. 133 to establish a Federal commission to review all aspects of policy, law, and administration relating to affairs of the United States with American Indian tribes and people. The Senate and the House of Representatives both adopted S.J. Res. 133 and on January 2, 1975, the Resolution was signed into law by the President, thus establishing the American Indian Policy Review Commission [Public Law 93-580]. There are other Commissions in 1928, 1934 and 1992.
But after 141 years and Commissions, this proposed settlement still does not protect our land, money, fleecing or our natural resources and culture but promotes tribal sovereignty erosion and U.S. failure to enforce treaty rights and their federal trust responsibilities according to their own U.S. Constitution and Congressional obligations.
The U.S. can send a man to the Moon and maybe Mars, travel to the bottom of the deepest Ocean, fight wars on opposite side of the world, clone animals but cannot fix the broken trust problem with Indian services.
If the U.S. initially worked with earnest and full trust with Native Nations using their own money plus the promised federal appropriations, there would not be a financial burden on either party, national dishonesty or worldwide disgrace of American ideals.
It has been settled for me to forget all that happened within DOI and accept the $1,500.00 minus reserves/taxes (unknown amount) and attorney fee’s (unknown amount) as if nothing happened.
Thomas M. Wabnum
Prairie Band Potawatomi
Former Tribal Councilperson
Viet Nam Veteran
IIM Accountholder
BIA/OST retired
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a recognition of rebirth,holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations


The winter solstice

It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. [2] In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year

Honestly, I have not heard enough negative media over the last 8 yrs. that would make me sign a petition stating my President is wrong, loony, and illegitimate or just does not know what he is doing.  There are strong feelings, passions and possible misunderstandings by  rwnj’s in this era of trump, but this new “panic button” they say we lefties are hitting is not only desperate but that we should be calling it game over,  uh no …  we must tell trump supporters that the game of politics is clearly  just beginning and at some point voters on both sides of the aisle will need to make some serious decisions in 2018 to change the faces of Congress to those who will NOT spend $$ on hearings, shutdown the government or hold America hostage.   So, in this New Year I pledge to continue to have strong opinions, post other opinions and views, but I won’t always side with all of them which is good The point to my blog; is to blow off steam … offer up some info from those who know, maybe question, challenge some who think they know, ask plead or yell for a call to action with signatures that can create change … Words do Matter contrary to how most conservatives seem to feel.

I thank everyone who even takes the time to visit my blog let alone read and respond to the articles and even some actually sign petitions … I thank you … much gratitude.

In this era of trump one might be thinking the end of days, what with republicans trying to legislate more guns in stadiums, schools, allowing concealed weapons least we think about what life will look like for the poor lower and middle class after the New Year. We must stand our ground and have the Audacity for Hope and Change.XMAS

Have a Merry Christmas  &

Happy New Years

A Historic Meeting … Cuba


whitehouselogoa repost

President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama City  — marking the first full meeting between the leaders of the two countries since we announced a new diplomatic path with Cuba.

The two presidents discussed our shared histories, significant policy changes, and the positive response in both countries to this thaw in relations. “This is obviously a historic meeting,” said President Obama — who was in Central America for the seventh Summit of the Americas, a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the region.

Watch the President’s remarks at the Summit and learn more about his trip.

The President speaks at the Summit of the Americas.

Weekly Address: Tuition-Free Community College

In this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students. A better-educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world. Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy.

READ MORE

Why Conversion Therapy Hurts All of Us

More than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy — and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.

READ MORE

West Wing Week: “A Good Deal”

Last week, the President made an important announcement about preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, traveled west to champion high-tech jobs in Louisville and clean energy jobs in Salt Lake City, had some fun at the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and flew to Jamaica for a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations.

READ MORE

Wind Energy Information


by Aaron Severn
Director, Grassroots and Federal Legislative Affairs
American Wind Energy Association

 

I wanted to loop you in on the latest updates on American wind power.  The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released its Annual Market Report for 2013, as well as its First Quarter 2014 Market Report.

So what’s new?

The U.S. wind industry did not install much wind power capacity in 2013, reflecting the impact of the policy uncertainty that the wind industry faced throughout 2012

The numbers were small:

  • 1,087 megawatts (MW) installed in 2013, compared to 13,131 in 2012 – a 92% drop in new capacity
  • Corresponding drop in investment, $2 billion into the US economy in 2013,  compared to $25 billion in 2012
  • Loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs – ending the year with 50,500 total wind industry jobs, as compared to 80,700 jobs at the end of 2012

In total, though, wind power is making impressive contributions to the U.S. electricity supply:

  • Wind now provides over 4% of our electricity nationally
  • Iowa and South Dakota get over 25% of their electricity from wind power; nine states get more than 10% and six states get more than 15% of their electricity from wind power

As you may recall, Congress allowed the PTC to expire at the end of 2012.  Then, our legislators extended the credit in early January 2013, allowing projects that started construction by the end of 2013 to qualify for the credit (rather than requiring that they be operational by the end of 2013, as  required in the past).  The uncertainty throughout 2012 caused wind project development to come to a halt, and manufacturing orders to cease, resulting in little development and significant job loss as noted above.

How’s this year looking so far?

The PTC extension in 2013 allowed developers to put plans back in motion.  As a result, 2014 is off to a great start:

  • Over 13,000 MW of wind power under construction – more than any other time in history – and including over 95 projects across 21 states
  • 214 MW of wind power installed so far — more than in the first three quarters of 2013
  • Utility companies and corporate purchasers continue to announce agreements to purchase wind power – they announced 8,000 MW of power purchase agreements in 2013, and about another 1,000 MW so far this year  

Is there a catch?

Yes – federal policy for the wind energy industry is still uncertain.  The PTC expired again, at the end of 2013.  Without an extension, the wind industry is looking at the prospect of near-term downturns in project development, and job layoffs as well.

The Senate Finance Committee has acted to extend the PTC, and a credit that developers can choose instead of the PTC, the investment tax credit (ITC).  They extended these provisions as part of the EXPIRE Act in early April.  The bill moves to the Senate floor for consideration next, and we will keep you updated on that front.  It will be important to weigh in with your Senators about the importance of extending the PTC through the EXPIRE Act.

Thanks, as always, for your support.  I encourage you to check out these resources if you’re interested in more information:

Sincerely,
Aaron

Aaron Severn
Director, Grassroots and Federal Legislative Affairs
American Wind Energy Association

 

Mayor Rauner … seems to be against his constituents


  Rauner suspends $26 million in social services, public health grants

Rauner suspends $26 million in social services, public health grants

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office worked with the Departments of Human Services and Public Health “to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”


Associated Press

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended $26 million in social services and public health grants as part of his push to whittle away at a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current state budget.

The Republican’s office released a list of targeted programs late Friday that included funding to pay for the funerals and burials of public-assistance recipients, smoking cessation, teen programs, autism, and HIV and AIDS programs, among other things.

Rauner also froze $3.4 million in funding for immigrant integration assistance as part of ongoing efforts to keep the state rolling through the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

Rauner’s office said the check-writing halt – he also interrupted $180 million in parkland grants in March – is necessary because the expenditures were based on the assumption a temporary income tax would be extended past January, but it wasn’t after Rauner won the election.

“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”

The cuts will save the state $21.8 million in Department of Human Services Grants and $4.5 million in unexpended funding through the Department of Public Health. The suspensions only affect this year’s funding, Kelly said.

But there’s always another price – this one paid for by constituents who, as soon as Monday morning, will be told through closed doors there’s no more money to help them.

Breandan Magee, senior director of programs for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said dozens of organizations assisted 102,000 legal immigrants in 2014 with applications for citizenship, English as a Second Language classes and health and nutrition programs for low-income immigrants.

“There are 299 jobs across 60 different immigrant-services agencies at risk” with funding ceasing, Magee said Saturday. “There are workshops scheduled for citizenship, applications for citizenship pending, ESL classes hallway through.”

Immigrant integration programs – which Rauner proposed eliminating entirely in the 2016 budget – will forfeit nearly half of their $6.7 million budget, according to figures provided by the governor’s office. Magee said he hopes the state will cover expenses he’s already incurred.

A copy of Friday’s letter from Human Services, obtained by The Associated Press, notifies the recipient to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds.” Agencies must submit records of all spending for the year. Jimi Orange of Children’s Home and Aid faces the unenviable task of telling up to 25 of the 100 children in Chicago’s impoverished West Englewood neighborhood they can’t come to Earle Elementary School for after-class tutoring and cultural activities because the state has recalled the remaining $3.1 million of Teen REACH money for kids ages 7 to 17.

“The staff’s concern is how to tell the families? What to tell the kids? How to tell the kids?” Orange said. “These are kids who already have abandonment issues, trust issues.”

Parkland-related grants Rauner has suspended this year include $90 million for park facility construction, $56 million for local governments to purchase open space for future parkland, and $30 million for museum capital-construction grants.

Grants suspended by Rauner include:

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million

Rauner’s ‘turnaround budget’ has cuts called ‘reckless,’ ‘wrong priorities’

You be the judge. Look at the list below and decide if grants for the Homeless or for HIV assistance, Addiction  prevenetion, and so on are reckless.

Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million

Welcoming Centers, $191,300

ARC Lifespan, $118,100

Best Buddies, $250,000

Autism, $1 million

Group Home Loans, $20,000

Compulsive Gambling $406,000

Westside Health, $94,200

Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million

Assistance for Homeless, $300,000

Community Services, $2 million

Teen REACH, $3.1 million

Coalition F/Tech Assist-Child, $250,000

For Children’s Health Program, $231,600

Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700

Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700

SMRF Training, $420,100

Transportation, $43,900

DD Latino Outreach, $87,500

Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500

Epilepsy, $514,700

DHS TOTAL: $21.8 million

DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800

Increasing Access to Health Care-Wellness on Wheels, $180,000

Wellness on Wheels – Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000

Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million

Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000

MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000

IDPH TOTAL: $4.5 million

DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES*

Park and Recreational Facility Construction, $89.5 million

Open Space Lands Acqusition and Development, $56.3 million

Museum Capital Grants, $30.4 million

Bike Paths, Mud-to-Parks, others, $2.6 million

IDNR TOTAL: $178.8 million

*Grants suspended in March

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