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Some Good News for a Tuesday
September 17, 2002 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Some Good News for a Tuesday Now that a third cabinet official has been held in contempt over the handling of funds owed to Native Americans, is a big check in the mail? Or will the Interior Department claim that they are out of stamps?
posted by tommyspoon (25 comments total)

 
this whole tale is completely appalling. but not too surprising, unfortunately.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:49 AM on September 17, 2002


so, what happens to one who is held in contempt?
posted by tolkhan at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2002


Hey, you know what would really work? Just give them their land back.

Okay, I know it's not totally feasable, but how about this: give the Indians Utah. The whole state. Just clear it out and give it back.

We'd feel better about ourselves, and we'd get rid of all the Mormons. Plus, I think I'd be much happier as an American if I lived in a donut-shaped country.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2002


why would anyone want Utah?
posted by tolkhan at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2002


Good on the court. The treatment of Native Americans in the history of this country is one of the most overlooked and still impactful atrocities that the government overtook. If you're not sympathetic to the cause yet, go catch a presentation of the Trail of Tears. You won't be the same afterwards.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2002


I don't know, tolkhan, ask the people we murdered and stole it from.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:42 AM on September 17, 2002


Hey, you know what would really work? Just give them their land back.

I feel the same way, but have also wondered how to do so without being hideously unfair to those of us who were born after the land was already stolen. What I've come up with is this: Any DNA-certified member of a particular tribe that was known to hold land within a given area of the US has a right to buy property within said area at an "Indian rate," which would be, say, ten percent lower than the rate for any non-Indian buyer. The seller would get the same (original asking) price and the difference would be made up by you & me - tax dollars. After a respectable period of time - say, five to ten years - the Indian owner of the land could sell the land to anyone, including another Indian, who would be buying it at "Indian rate." Over time, this increasing advantage would allow Indians to incrementally take back the land, but without subjecting us to the heinous abuses of life, limb and, well, genocide to which they were subject by our ancestors. Would this work?
posted by soyjoy at 9:50 AM on September 17, 2002


Justice can be served in many ways, but I think the U.S. should NOT break more promises to Native Americans -- taking back land allotments is a terrible idea. DNA evidence is not required to keep promises.
Bill
posted by bbartee at 10:21 AM on September 17, 2002


Soyjoy - the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 provides housing assistance on reservations in compliance with existing tribal customs. Outside reservations, those who are low-income will generally qualify for traditional assistance through HUD. Once you get outside of geographic boundaries and into who is and isn't a Native American, you are dabbling in an area where public policy generally doesn't want to go.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: i wasn't speaking of those who are dead, since they don't really have any wants. i was speaking of the currently living decendents of 300 or so Federally recognized tribes in the lower 48. why would they (excepting those who are currently there, or whose ancestral homeland is there) want Utah?
posted by tolkhan at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2002


PrinceValium - thanks for the NAHASDA link. Unfortunately, the site seems to be having some difficulties right now server-wise and couldn't give me some of the pages I wanted to see. But from what I understand, this is a very limited kind of assistance tied in with ordinary US welfare programs. What I'm suggesting would be much more extreme, and therefore would require a definite test (e.g. DNA) for inclusion. But you're right, public policy doesn't want to go there. Not just yet, anyway.
posted by soyjoy at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2002


I think many people may be willing to move, tolkhan, for the ability to have self-determination, freedom of religion, and their own lands not in the corner of a swamp. Of course it should go without saying that it would be strictly voluntary, but I would think that many Native Americans would opt for it. (Not that I really think they should give them the whole state of Utah. That just means the Mormons would come to our states. Gah!)

welcome, bbartee. nice comments. But most people frown on signature tags, and self links. i wouldn't recommend maintaining the practice of both
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2002


Okay, I know it's not totally feasable, but how about this: give the Indians Utah. The whole state. Just clear it out and give it back.

We'd feel better about ourselves, and we'd get rid of all the Mormons. Plus, I think I'd be much happier as an American if I lived in a donut-shaped country.


Almost happened, kind of.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:25 AM on September 17, 2002


But you're right, public policy doesn't want to go there.
The incentive to change that may already be in effect. Here in California, and I believe other states as well, the economic pressure created by the potential monopoly, or more precisely oligopoly, on gambling has caused a large number of controversies about certification as a recognized tribe. This is already dragging public policy into areas closely related to those you're talking about. The line may well continue to be approached and/or blurred.

I'd be much happier as an American if I lived in a donut-shaped country.

Watch out, folks - I think this guy might be a cop.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2002


I'd be much happier as an American if I lived in a donut-shaped country.
You may be interested in our organization, Increase America's Geometric Genus.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:12 PM on September 17, 2002


You may be interested in our organization, Increase America's Geometric Genus.


Topological genus, you meant, of course.
posted by soyjoy at 2:22 PM on September 17, 2002


I say send them injuns mo goverment cheese so they can build one of them giant cheese totum poles.
posted by crackheadmatt at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2002


so, what happens to one who is held in contempt?
well, it depends, tolkhan. if it was YOU or ME, we'd go to jail. but we are talking bush administration flunkys here, they will likely get raises and a stake in halliburton.
posted by quonsar at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2002


tolkhan: Ordinary citizens can be confined to jail at the discretion of the court. The federal executive is rather more immune; to paraphrase the Watergate Committee, they may wish to hold a Cabinet member in contempt, but question who would arrest him. The judicial branch, like the legislative, has no independent arrest authority. These kinds of inter-branch disputes can drag on for years without resolution, highlighted perhaps by stonewalling or childish-appearing paperwork or scheduling spats. Contempt of Congress is nothing new for cabinet officials, but contempt of the federal courts is rather more rare. In either case it really has little practical effect.

And quonsar, bless your little partisan pinhead: It is a question of constitutional structure, not who is running the White House.
posted by dhartung at 4:51 PM on September 17, 2002


More on Elouise Cobell, the thorn in Norton's side: A Blackfeet's crusade to settle accounts with US.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on September 17, 2002


Why Not Wounded Knee?
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on September 17, 2002


I say send them injuns mo goverment cheese so they can build one of them giant cheese totum poles.

The historic racism of the people of the United State, echoed with true fidelity on MetaFilter.

In place of rage at such ignorance, if only one could conjure a shawl dance from electron on phosphor.

In the fall of 1988 the Pine Ridge Lady Thorpes went to Lead to play a basketball game. SuAnne was a full member of the team by then. She was a freshman, fourteen years old. Getting ready in the locker room, the Pine Ridge girls could hear the din from the Lead fans. They were yelling fake Indian war cries, a "woo-woo-woo" sound. The usual plan for the pre-game warm-up was for the visiting team to run onto the court in a line, take a lap or two around the floor, shoot some baskets, and then go to their bench at courtside. After that the home team would come out and do the same, and then the game would begin. Usually the Thorpes lined up for their entry more or less according to height, which meant that senior Doni De Cory, one of the tallest, went first. As the team waited in the hallway leading from the locker room, the heckling got louder. Some fans were waving food stamps, a reference to the reservation's receiving federal aid. Others yelled, "Where's the cheese?" -- the joke being that if Indians were lining up, it must be to get commodity cheese. The Lead high school band had joined in, with fake Indian drumming and a fake Indian tune. Doni De Cory looked out the door and told her teammates, "I can't handle this." SuAnne quickly offered to go first in her place. She was so eager that Doni became suspicious. "Don't embarrass us," Doni told her. SuAnne said, "I won't. I won't embarrass you." Doni gave her the ball, and SuAnne stood first in line.

She came running onto the court dribbling the basketball, with her teammates running behind. On the court the noise was deafening. SuAnne went right down the middle and suddenly stopped when she got to center court. Her teammates were taken by surprise, and some bumped into each other. Coach Zimiga, at the rear of the line, did not know why they had stopped. SuAnne turned to Doni De Cory and tossed her the ball. Then she stepped into the jump-ball circle at center court, facing the Lead fans. She unbuttoned her warm-up jacket, took it off, draped it over her shoulders, and began to do the Lakota shawl dance. SuAnne knew all the traditional dances (she had competed in many powwows as a little girl), and the dance she chose is a young woman's dance, graceful and modest and show-offy all at the same time. "I couldn't believe it -- she was powwowin', like, 'Get down!'" Doni De Cory recalls. "And then she started to sing." SuAnne began to sing in Lakota, swaying back and forth in the jump-ball circle, doing the shawl dance, using her warm-up jacket for a shawl. The crowd went completely silent. "All that stuff the Lead fans were yelling -- it was like she reversed it somehow," a teammate says. In the sudden quiet all they could hear was her Lakota song. SuAnne dropped her jacket, took the ball from Doni De Cory, and ran a lap around the court dribbling expertly and fast. The audience began to cheer and applaud. She sprinted to the basket, went up in the air, and laid the ball through the hoop, with the fans cheering loudly now.

In an ancient sense that her Oglala kin could recognize, SuAnne counted coup on the fans of Lead.

And yet this coup was an act not of war but of peace. SuAnne's coup strike was an offering, an invitation. It gave the hecklers the best interpretation, as if their silly, mocking chants were meant only in good will. It showed that their fake Indian songs were just that -- fake -- and that the real thing was better, as real things usually are. We Lakota have been dancing like this for centuries, the dance said; we've been doing the shawl dance since long before you came, before you got on the boat in Glasgow or Bremerhaven, before you stole this land, and we're still doing it today. And isn't it pretty, when you see how it's supposed to be done? Because finally what SuAnne proposed was to invite us -- us onlookers in the stands, namely the non-Lakota rest of this country -- to dance too. She was in the Lead gym to play, and she invited us all to play. The symbol she used to include us was the warm-up jacket. Everyone in America has a warm-up jacket. I've got one, probably so do you, so did (no doubt) many of the fans at Lead. By using the warm-up jacket as a shawl in her impromptu shawl dance, she made Lakota relatives of us all.

---- On The Rez - Ian Frazier.

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:29 PM on September 17, 2002


And quonsar [timid ad hominem slur deleted] It is a question of constitutional structure, not who is running the White House.

No. It is a question of right and wrong, a concept wholly alien to those whose ethical sense consists of regurgitated factoids from their last political science midterm.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:30 PM on September 17, 2002


Topological genus, you meant, of course.

I think they're both ok. But maybe not.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:41 PM on September 18, 2002


And quonsar, bless your little partisan pinhead: It is a question of constitutional structure, not who is running the White House.
thanks, dan, i really didn't know that, and it's a fascinating bit. but it's bush's fault i didnt know. [ducks, bangs pinhead against fact, curses...]
posted by quonsar at 2:07 PM on September 18, 2002


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