Editorial: President Obama keeps his promises to Indian Country

President Barack Obama at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C, on September 26, 2016. Photo by U.S. Department of the Interior

The New York Times praises President Barack Obama for fulfilling his campaign promise to start a new era in the federal-tribal relationship:
President Obama campaigned hard in 2008 for the votes of American Indians. He vowed that his administration would pay special attention to their grievances about federal mismanagement and the government’s recurring neglect of treaty obligations. “Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans — the first Americans,” he told the Crow Nation in Montana, promising a change.

Flash forward to this week as Mr. Obama attended his eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference, an annual summit meeting of Indian leaders he instituted. He received praise for actually delivering on his pledge in multiple ways, including the announcement of $492 million in lawsuit settlements with 17 American Indian tribes for alleged federal mismanagement of their funds and lands. The government holds more than 100,000 leases to manage about 56 million acres of tribal lands rich in mining, timber and oil resources that have historically been exploited at the tribes’ expense.

The settlement was the latest in the administration’s resolution of more than 100 tribal claims, some of them a century old, at a cost of more than $3.3 billion. Separate from that, the administration settled a complex, 13-year-old lawsuit in 2009, agreeing to pay $3.4 billion in compensation for federal mishandling of hundreds of thousands of land trust accounts. That signaled a sea change in the long and bitter history of Washington’s treatment of tribal interests and grievances.

Read More:
Editorial: Candidate Obama Kept His Promise to Native Americans (The New York Times 9/30)

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