When the subject of how the Government has treated various groups of people is discussed, it always seems to be in reference to past transgressions. But what about today? Is there a minority group that the government still treats horribly? Yes; the U.S. government did things to American Indians, and are doing things now.
I am not talking about the mostly manufactured outrage by mostly upper class whites over sports mascots or team names; in the whole scheme of things, a team called the Indians, or Chieftains, or Apache’s rates so far down on the list of real issues, it’s almost not worth mentioning.
So what is a bigger problem than the Cleveland Indians? Well, here’s a thing or two that seem to be higher on the importance list:
1. Indians have the highest rate of poverty of any racial group in America. 2. Alcoholism is more common among Indian youths than among youths in any other ethnic group.
3. The rate of child abuse among Indians is twice as high as the national average.
4. In the United States, Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic. What does that last statistic mean? One in three Native women is sexually assaulted during her life, and 67% of these assaults are perpetrated by non-Natives.
As horrifying as all those facts are, it’s even more shocking when you realize that the U.S. Government provides more “help” to native Americans than any other minority group, by far.
The two main agencies that “help” Indians who live on reservations are the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). In fact, the federal government controls and is responsible for education, economic development, tribal courts, road maintenance, agriculture and social services. Indians say BIA stands for “Bossing Indians Around”, and there’s a stunning amount of truth to the statement.
The combined population of Indians living on reservations is roughly 1 million. The BIA and BIE have a combined budget of $3 billion per year, and employ 9,000 people or one government employee for every 111 Indians. The BIE uses $850 million of that $3 billion to educate 42,000 students. Do the math on that; $20,000 per student, and they are some of the worst schools in the US. Amazing considering the national average is $12,400 per student.
And the BIA and BIE are just two of the federal agencies that exist to “help” Indians. The Indian Health Service has a $5.4 billion budget. Odd then that it is normal for tribal hospitals to have shortages of basic drugs, broken equipment, and unsanitary medical facilities.
There is absolutely nobody who will argue that that the almost $9 billion the government spends annually to “help” Indians has made their lives better. Hell, the Federal government isn’t even keeping their heads above water. By almost all metrics used to determine economic and social health, life for the average the lives of Indians are only getting worse.
As well, there is absolutely nobody with even a basic level of understanding that will argue that the best way out of this for all Indian nations is growth. Odd then, that the brain-trust that is the Federal Government clearly doesn’t get this; the reservation system is designed in a way that makes economic growth nearly impossible. And here is how we got to this travesty.
After making and breaking treaties with the various tribes for a hundred years as the nation expanded westward, the federal government decided that the only way for the Indians to keep getting screwed by unscrupulous white people was to hold Indian land “in trust” for them. This way Indians wouldn’t get swindled out of that land. The irony here is suffocating; the federal government, who was the primary swindlers of Indians, and had been screwing them over for more than 100 years, decided that they were the ones should protect them. From swindlers.
And let’s not forget what a trust is. A trust is created by the wealthy when those that would inherit their wealth are deemed too irresponsible or incompetent to handle it. Is there anything more insulting? Does this not clearly send a message letting anybody who will listen, what the government thinks of Indians?
The awful consequence of this land trust is that Indians can’t sell, rent, or lease, which means they can’t use it the same way other Americans do. For example, one of the most common ways people get money to start businesses is by putting their homes or land up as collateral. What bank would lend to landowners who don’t own land?
The other effect of this absurdity is that Indians can’t develop this land that they don’t own. As hard as the government tried to put reservations on useless land, reservations contain almost 30 percent of the nation’s coal reserves west of the Mississippi, 50 percent of potential uranium reserves, 20 percent of known oil and gas reserves and thousands of acres of timber. Those resources are estimated to be worth nearly $1.7 trillion. On federal land where those resources exist, the government leases the land to companies to mine and harvest it. But the vast majority of Indian lands with natural resources remain undeveloped. Why? because of federal regulations.
Say a tribe decides they want to mine coal on their reservation. That requires a process that takes 49 steps spanning four federal agencies. Each one of these 49 steps take months, and in some cases years to be approved. In fact there are so many government regulations that just to apply for a permit to dig a hole costs $6,500. This is why the main source of revenues on reservations is….casinos. They can’t lease the land for factories, office parks, warehouses, nothing.
So how do we fix it? Well the best way for the government to help Indians is to stop helping Indians. End the trust system. Transfer the land to the tribal governments to use as they wish. Let them sell, rent, lease, or develop their land in any way they decide is best for them.
Second, eliminate the BIA, the BIE, and the BIH. For the next 50 years, the current budget previously given to these agencies should be given to the tribes in block grants based on a formula that takes into account the physical size, population, age distribution, and location of the reservations. A set amount, no strings. They can use the funds again as thy see fit.
Now, this isn’t going to make the white virtue-signaling power elite in this country happy, as they won’t have a downtrodden group to “help”, but it will do more for American Indians than leading the charge to get Cleveland to drop their mascot and Kansas City to stop the “tomahawk chop”