*update 4/18/17 My article seems to have touched a nerve among some reservation Natives who have sent comments. While I don’t retract my premise (that Natives are getting screwed by the federal government and racial segregation is not acceptable today) I can see that parts of the article appear to broad-brush all reservation Natives, and I know better than that. My article is based on US Census Bureau and other federal statistics, and my opinions reflect the aggregate data of the reservation system, not any individual Native, tribe, or reservation. My apologies for any poorly chosen remarks, no offense intended. The article follows unedited.
Oh, and yes, the song I chose sucked. I did remove that!
*update 4/24/17 I just discovered the excellent work performed on this very subject by Naomi Schaefer Riley. Her book published last summer is titled “The New Trail of Tears – How Washington Is Destroying American Indians”. And here is a link to her excellent video for Prager University, published today: American Indians Are Still Getting a Raw Deal
I’m pleased that this topic is getting some attention.
About 1 million Native Americans live on reservations, most of them in poverty. Crime, unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, bad schools, poor health and other hardships are common. While they are not required to stay on the reservations, federal policies effectively keep Native Americans there, dependent on their benefits.
There is no longer any justification for continuing the archaic, immoral, and wasteful practice of racially segregating Native Americans and subjugating them to perpetual poverty.
Surely nobody would argue that the quality of life for families isolated on Indian reservations is acceptable. Yet no effort has been made to assimilate reservation Native Americans into the American mainstream.
The reservation situation is not only inhumane, it is a fiscal disaster. Billions of federal dollars flow to the reservations, with little evident result. Corruption is rampant.
The tribes have also been used by big-government and left-wing organizations to seize property, wealth and control from landowners and taxpayers. The Flathead Reservation Water Compact threatens to claim water rights for the tribe that far exceeds their dominion and would cripple the agriculture industry.
Total government spending on the reservations is hard to determine due to an intentional lack of government transparency. I found a chart prepared by the Dept. of the Interior that shows a 2017 budget estimate of $21 billion targeted to tribes and Native American communities. The cost of health and welfare benefits, including food stamps, disability, housing subsidies, unemployment, education programs, health care and other programs could easily exceed that figure. Many seemingly unrelated federal programs concentrate spending on the reservations that just blurs into oblivion – for example, I observed eight years ago that the largest proportion of Obama “stimulus” money in Montana went to the reservations and tribes.
The 2016 elections made clear that now is the time for swamp-draining and fiscal reorganization. Now is the time to end racial discrimination in every form. Why not transform this large group of Americans (many of whom have distinguished military service) into happy, healthy, productive taxpayers? Now is the best opportunity in many decades to take a fresh, honest look at what our government is doing, and make sweeping changes.
We could, within a year, eliminate the embarrassment of Indian reservations from our landscape. Reservation tribes could distribute their commonly-owned property to members, and preserve their privately-owned property. All federal agencies, departments and programs related to Native Americans could be sunset. And I submit that two years of federal spending on the reservations and tribes could be calculated, divided, and paid to reservation dwellers in a lump sum. My cursory math: $100 billion divided by 1 million reservation households = $100,000 per household.
Here’s your share of the property. Here’s a check. The reservation is no more, welcome to the United States of America.
This does not need to threaten the Native American culture or traditions. Eliminating the reservations would blow up the subjugation of this group by an over-reaching and cold-hearted federal government.
This is a simple first look at a very old problem, but the situation can’t go on, and nothing gets done until we start.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side