Monday, March 07, 2005

Congress, on Indian Country

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and recently laid out what he thought were the top concerns from Indian Country in front of Congress this session.

- The Federal Budget: Under Bush's new 2006 budget more that $200 million dollars were cut from Indian programs, including education, housing and health care. McCain refers to these cuts as "self-defeating" and "not good". You think?

- The Trust Fund scandal/Cobell v. Norton: The sum up: Since the late 19th centurty the federal government has held in trust billions of dollars that belong to Native Americans and their families. This includes revenues for land sales, as well as mining, grazing, and timber rights, etc. The fund has been grossly mismanaged and the Indians have not received the monies owed to them. The suit that was filed in 1996, Cobell v. Norton, has yet to be settled, even though the lower courts have ruled in their favor. Read the details here.

- Off-Reservation Gaming: Should tribes be able to have casinos and other gaming off their reservations? What about out of state? Should the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, based in Oklahoma but claiming ancestral lands in New York, be able to build casino in New York? Was this the intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or have some tribes overstepped their bounds? Will the backlash be significant and potentially damaging? Debate continues.

- The Abramoff/Delay Scandal (see NOW video) :Jack Abramoff, a DC lobbyist and Michael Scanlon, a PR man, both with ties to Tom Delay (and Ralph Reed) stand accused of bilking over $82 million dollars from Indian tribes who hired them to work on their behalfs in Washington, pushing their gaming interests. Instead of lobbying for their clients, they referred to the Indians as "morons", "monkeys" and "losers", and each man personally pocketed $21 million dollars for themselves, prompting Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) to call their activities "a cesspool of greed, a disgusting pattern, certainly, of moral corruption, possibly of criminal corruption...a pathetic, disgusting example of greed run amok." Indeed! Hearings continue.


Post a Comment

<< Home