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December 2010 Archives

native american tribes receive justice at last?

 As some of you know I spend a good deal of time in our great Southwest. New Mexico and Arizona and the entire Four Corners area of this country are the most awe-inspiring geography in the world. Mountains, deserts, high plains, and geologic formations of indescribable beauty. Home of the Navajo, the Hopi, Zuni and dozens of other remaining American Indian tribes -  some now only consisting of dozens or hundreds of the once proud stewards of this great land. Recently, I spent some time on the Navajo reservation visiting some of the most beautiful  canyons and geologic monuments. Last week President Obama signed a long overdue piece of legislation ending 14 years of litigation. Since the 1800s the Department of the Interior has been responsible for managing the resources (land, minerals etc.) on Indian reservations. The proceeds from the resources were apparently mismanaged for over a hundred and fifty years. Perhaps, the darkest hour in American history has been the systemized abuse and genocide of the rightful owners of the American west . Now reduced from 100's of thousands to less than 25,000, they have been cheated by our government (us) out of what we promised them in exchange for a life that would be barely recognizable by their forefathers. In 1996, a civil action was brought against the Department of the Interior seeking to recover some portion of the mismanaged funds. After 14 years the parties agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement to be distributed among all of those Native Americans living on reservations. There will be $1.5 billion available for distribution, resulting in a payment of less the $2000 per Native American. Another $1.9 billion will go back to the Department of the Interior and will be used to purchase parcels of land allowing for a more contiguous ownership. For those familiar with Indian lands in the Southwest, there can be dozens of small pieces of land which are surrounded by private property resulting in land which is, effectively, non useable. This of course was caused in part by the Department's mismanagement. How do Native Americans feel about this? Read some of their comments  in Indian Country Today , the nation's leading weekly newspaper on Indian affairs. The question that will always remain unanswered is - what could we ever  pay that would be fair and just compensation for our manifest destiny? Dennis F Feeley            

senate subcommittee reigns in the helmet industry

This is the fourth post on the on-going investigation about the helmet industry's seemingly stagnant progress toward concussion prevention. After the rash of head and spinal injuries during this football season, and after some editorial digging by the press, we learned that there was absolutely no oversight or official regulatory standards. The only standards are self-imposed by the helmet industry itself through its  organization called Nocase . Today, the New York Times published another story citing the Consumer Products and Safety Commission's (CPSC) report to a Senate subcommittee. The Committee is asking Nocsae some tough questions about why the industry has not been more proactive in redesigning helmets to provide more protection against concussion. There are over 100,000 reported concussion injuries in high school football alone each year. The Committee has stated that they will meet in January at which time they will examine the latest technology and science and at which time they will be asking Nocsae some tough questions - like why over the last 30 years has helmet safely only concerned itself with skull fractures and not the more common injury, concussions? Previous research by myself revealed that many of the helmets used by our children are 20 years or older, and that even when refurbished, very little is done to assure that a helmet's integrity is not compromised. I keep asking this question - After 20 years of  being used for a battering ram - how could they still provide proper protection? Senator Tom Udal from New Mexico was very critical of the standards organization which is funded by the sporting industry.  He is quoted as saying, "we think the science is there, we think you can improve upon it, and go out and do it ... (T)hen you have a real pressure point." Once again the fear of lawsuits was raised as a reason why Nocsae hasn't moved forward under the guise that they will get sued if they try to enforce a standard. However, the Nocsae official present at the Committee hearing denied legal liability concerns as a reason for failure to create and enforce standards. Get it together Nocsae because this is not at all consistent with your prior statements. Congratulations to Senator Udal and this committees goals. The public has spoken and has been heard - now lets hope the bureaucracy doesn't break down at the next level. Stay tuned as I continue to follow and post on this issue. Dennis F Feeley

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