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Monday, September 27, 2004

articles-september 27

A Continuing Shame

Published: September 26, 2004

Native Americans came in great numbers to Washington last week, partly to celebrate, partly to correct a historic injustice. The occasion was the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall - a vivid reminder of the profound cultural and symbolic legacy of America's indigenous peoples. In the background, however, was a continuing lawsuit, whose purpose is to restore to the Indians assets and revenues that are rightfully theirs.

Specifically, the suit seeks a proper accounting of a huge trust established more than a century ago when Congress broke up reservation lands into individual allotments. The trust was intended to manage the revenues owed to individual Indians from oil leases, timber leases and other activities. Yet a century of disarray and dishonesty by the federal government, particularly the Interior Department, whose job it is to administer the trust, has shortchanged generations of Indians and threatens to shortchange some half million more - the present beneficiaries of the trust.

Many of the beneficiaries hold minutely fractionated interests in land that has been passed down from generation to generation. But no one really grasps the true dimensions of the trust because the value of those leases and royalties is unclear, and because there has never been a real accounting of the money paid into or out of it. What has become clear is that Indians were often paid far less for leases on their property than whites were for comparable property. full article

The shame of a nation
Science & Society
By Bernadine Healy, M.D.

Native Americans paid tribute to their ancestors last week at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. A few blocks from the Capitol, the sound of drums, whoops, and chants rolled across the grassy Mall. But if their ancestors were looking on proudly, at the same time they must have been weeping for the countless Indians who have died because the same government that erected a showpiece of a museum has flagrantly ignored its moral and legal responsibility to provide the Native American population with decent healthcare.

Browse through an archive of columns by Bernadine Healy.

The health of American Indian tribes became the government's responsibility long ago, through treaties and other covenants signed in exchange for hundreds of millions of acres of tribal land. After generations of neglect, in 1955 the Indian Health Service took over, creating an independent, single-payer, government-funded system. After half a century, there have been small improvements, but the large picture, as described in "Broken Promises," the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' July draft report evaluating the Native American healthcare system, remains bleak. full article

Mixed emotions: Indian museum evokes varied reaction

BY JODI RAVE
Missoulian
WASHINGTON - It's already been consecrated a cathedral, a spiritual marker of the ages, a beautiful Native place, a monument of magnificence.
And the National Museum of the American Indian has been open for only a few days.

Its breathtaking nature - an architectural sensation housing the world's most extensive collection of Native objects - is not disputed.

But as museums go, it is a paradox.

It evokes life. And some say it hides death. full article

Our Voice: Schwarzenegger erred in his rebuke of mascot bill
‘Redskin’ is racist, derogatory term -- has no place in school


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have done his homework on the origin of the word ‘Redskin’ before nixing a bill that would ban the use of the offensive name on five school campuses in California.

His reasoning, that “Decisions regarding athletic team names, nicknames or mascots should be retained at the local level” -- doesn’t address the very real issue of racism involved here. We’re all in support of local control -- but this is not a local control issue -- it’s an issue of prejudice.

Since it doesn’t look like the governor opened his history book -- or the Google search engine -- before making his decision -- we decided to do the research for him:

At one time in our not so distant past, there was a bounty on the heads of the Indian people. full article

Homecoming for ancestral remains
Åustralia
By Dan Box
September 28, 2004

EIGHT Aboriginal elders will arrive in Sweden today to retrieve ancestral remains taken from communities across Australia in the early 1900s.
The formal repatriation ceremony will mark the end of a process that began last year, when the Swedish Government became the first to volunteer the return of Aboriginal remains to Australia.

Ken Robinson, from the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, said the elders had asked to receive the 15 skeletons in person. full article

Bolivia's Aymara taking justice into own hands

Fed up with the system, peasants stage protests in push for autonomy
By REED LINDSAY
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Foreign Service

AYO AYO, BOLIVIA - The blood has been washed away. But the blackened concrete below a broken lamppost in this town's main plaza serves as a reminder of the grisly lynching that took place here.

Before dawn on June 15, Benjamin Altamirano, the mayor of Ayo Ayo, was hanged from the lamppost and set ablaze. An autopsy indicated he had already been beaten to death.

More than three months later, 11 suspects sit in jail, awaiting trial for Altamirano's kidnapping and murder.

But it is hard to find anyone who expresses much pity for the mayor in Ayo Ayo, a poor village of fewer than 700 Aymara Indians on the windswept high plains an hour's drive south of Bolivia's capital, La Paz. full article

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