Royalties? don't they get those from the casinos?...
February 13, 2003 12:35 PM   Subscribe

US Bureau of Indian Affairs 'misplaces' about $137 billion "...hundreds of thousands of Indians in the largest-ever class-action lawsuit against the government have put the cumulative total at $137.2 billion owed [royalties due from BIA leasing of Indian land for lucrative mineral, oil, logging, cattle grazing, and other concessions]....Sometimes the checks might arrive for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and sometimes those checks might only amount to pennies on the dollar. On Indian reservations, the problem has reached crisis levels; a check written out for a smaller amount than expected—or no check at all—can mean the difference between housing and homelessness. " ....but we don't have the money, I told you: it must have fallen out through that hole in my pants' pocket... Treaty, what treaty? Oh, that treaty....
posted by troutfishing (9 comments total)
Fortunately for the American Indians there is a huge surplus in the national budget and we can write out one check to take of all moneies needed.
posted by Postroad at 12:37 PM on February 13, 2003

Here is the Indian Trust website.

And here is an article about Elouise Cobell.
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on February 13, 2003

Postroad, does the state of the current budget have *any* bearing on whether this money is legitimately owed or not? If so, I'm gonna call my mortgage holder and let him know that I'm not going to be paying him this month since I'm running a deficit this fiscal period....
posted by dragstroke at 1:49 PM on February 13, 2003

I grew up around, and had friends living in, reservations. I was under the impression the checks arrived with fair regularity, the problem lay in the fact that the U.S. government had systematically destroyed their social structure. When the checks showed up, few knew what the hell to do with the money besides blow it on expensive toys. And man, local merchants loved it - still do.
posted by rotifer at 2:41 PM on February 13, 2003

Rotifer - apparently the checks have become a little sporadic lately.
posted by troutfishing at 2:55 PM on February 13, 2003

OK, as someone who has received and still sporadically receives Indian checks, I will try and elaborate.

To receive Indian funds, you have to registered as a member of a tribe somewhere. Every tribe has different membership requirements. My tribe requires at least 1/4 blood, and one or both parents must be tribal members. You are then issued a tribal membership number. This number provides you several benefits, money from the BIA (offline), free medical care, as well as housing. Of course most benefits are predicated on you living on the reservation. Not an altogether enticing agreement.

All money you receive from the BIA is held in trust for you until you turn 18. I received about $5,000 when I turned 18. Since I turned 18, I would randomly (and I mean RANDOMLY) receive money, sometimes $75, sometimes $250, sometimes $3.42. I had no clue when I would receive a check and for what amount. For the last 5 years, I have not received any money.

The problem that rotifer hinted at that's not discussed at all is what to do with the money. The reservations that I have lived on (1, 2) are all in desolated areas. You need to travel upwards of 100 miles to get to any sort of city. Most people spend their money on quick things like cars, alcohol and gambling. Because there is no other place to go or things to do.

I am not even angry at the US government, I guess the right word is resigned. The government doesn't and never will care about Indians. Statistically, we represent such a tiny portion of the population that most congressmen don't even seriously consider Indian issues.
posted by patrickje at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2003

patrickje - so my post story was accurate - the checks are really sporadic, and the US gov. is using the extra money it's not sending through the BIA to the proper recipients as.......some sort of slush fund, I guess?
posted by troutfishing at 7:37 PM on February 13, 2003

How long until our cowboy pRez calls in the Calvary to quell this uprising on the reservation? [/satire]
posted by nofundy at 8:46 AM on February 14, 2003

nofundy - He won't bother with troops. The BIA will distribute free blankets. [/black humour]
posted by troutfishing at 12:14 PM on February 14, 2003

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