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Senate Opens Door for Reparations to American Indians

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(Washington, D.C.) Sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, legislation to apologize to American Indians has been warmly received by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The proposed legislation would "acknowledge our past failures, express sincere regrets and work toward establishing a brighter future for all Americans." Sen. John McCain said he would help in getting the resolution to a vote.

The President of the National Congress of American Indians, Tex Hall, said that the legislation "will be meaningless if it is not accompanied by actions that begin to correct the wrongs of the past and the present."

"Accompanied by actions that begin to correct the wrongs" sounds like reparations to me. And of course, this greases the skids for a pantload of other groups wanting to be paid for "past failures."

I don't know what Brownback is thinking, but I really don't want my tax dollars to be applied to pay for failures that occurred before any of my ancestors even stepped foot on the North American continent. [Emphasis mine - ed.]

Companion post at Interested-Participant.

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Posted by Mike Pechar on May 26, 2005 11:30 AM (Permalink)

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First of all, tribes ask for more than an apology because the misguided policies and wrongs continue to this day. Tribal leaders react strongly to this resolution because the destructive policies addressed in the resolution are not a fading distant past for Indian peoples; they are present harms that continue to be felt in very real ways every day. Tribes, which are governments and not just another minority group, continue to live with the legacy of the federal government’s misguided policies of the past, as well as present day policies that undermine tribes' ability to live as robust, healthy, self-determining peoples. Tribal leaders have stressed that the apology must recognize contemporary, and not just historical, problems in Indian-government relations. Many government policies continue to reflect a reluctance to truly recognize tribes as sovereigns. For example, tribes, unlike other governments, are limited in their ability to raise money by issuing tax exempt bonds. Tribes are also left out of the funds that the federal government has directed to every state in this nation for emergency response and homeland security, although tribes protect 260 miles of international border. (Native people have heeded the call to defend the American way of life in greater numbers than any other group in the history of the United States. Tribes will continue to defend American lives and homelands against the threats our great nation now faces.) Tribal law enforcement agencies do not have the jurisdiction and resources they need to protect public safety, and recent Supreme Court decisions have blurred the lines of jurisdiction at the borders between state and tribal lands. The "actions that begin to correct the wrongs of the past and present" need not be construed as monetary reparations, but support for tribal self-determination and self-governance so tribes are able to build strong, safe communities on their own. Without action, Brownback's resolution is like apologizing for stepping on someone’s foot while you continue to stand on it.

Posted by: aebarb on May 26, 2005 03:38 PM

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