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Isn't It Ironic?
The Indians* Are Coming...

February 23, 1999

* The preferred term for political correctness is now American Indian, or just Indian, sometimes
referred to as "Native Americans" but that is actually incorrect in more cases than not.
Try to keep up, will you?

"I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the Federal Government," the Judge said. "The Government has engaged in a shocking pattern of deception of the court and the people." Now, you are probably thinking Monica and Bill here, but no. This time it's Geronimo and Crazy Horse. Nearly A century ago, America Indians, in an organized and formal request, asked the American Government for a "simple accounting of land and money held in trust for them since the days of the treaty signings." And, this is no joke. The lawsuit and the judge's decision, now coming to fruition was like a bolt of lightning hitting the government unawares, yesterday. The Judge held in contempt of court, two of the highest and most prestigious Clinton Cabinet officials there are: Robert Rubin and Bruce Babbitt. The order citing official deceit, involves billions of dollars in money and land held in trust for as many 500,000 Indians for a century or more.

Back in the 1880's, when the Government tired to break up the tribal system by awarding individual allotments of 80 to 160 acres per Indian. These lands were managed by the Government, and usually leased out to gas, oil, mining or timber companies for exploitation. The income from these trusts is due to be passed on the descendants of the original recipients. Hence the Indian request for an accounting of the land and the money, now a century old, without response from the Government. No response other than cover ups, deceit, delay, and outright lying. And all this with money compounding and growing.

These contempt orders carry no personal penalties for the Cabinet members, since they are not directly responsible, but the Judge did say that further delays could now lead to criminal charges against both Babbitt and Rubin, and now the government must pay the plaintiffs legal fees. "I think this is the beginning of justice for the victims who have had years and years of abuse at the hands of the United States Government, " said Eloise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation which is the chief plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The Clinton Administration states that it has inherited this mess and that it has done more than any other administration to straighten it out. The President has requested $150 million to begin an accounting. The Government estimates that the "accounts" generate around $300 million per year, but the exact details will be difficult, at best, to assemble. Ms. Cobell stated that if a private banking concern had handled the money they the Federal Government did they would certainly be closed down and the officers sent to prison.

The Government has been ducking this situation for decades and as the Judge said, "The court cannot tolerate any more empty promises."

So, as we round the bend into the 21st Century, there looms on the horizon one of the largest battles ever between the US Government and the American Indians. And this time, the Indians may just have the upper hand. Custer's last stand may look like a day in the park compared to this situation.


"Run for it boys, here come those Injuns with their lawyers! Now, we've really got trouble!"

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