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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            

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