Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Today at 11:00 am
WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Affairs will hear testimony this morning on HR 1272. The bill is to provide for the use and distribution of the funds awarded to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, et al, by the United States Court of Federal Claims in Docket Numbers 19 and 188, and for other purposes. Known as the "Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Judgment Fund Distribution Act of 2011"
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribe is opposed to the bill which it feels distributes funds in a disproportionate fashion.
In 1999, the US Court of Federal Claims approved the $20 million settlement based on the damages that were suffered by the various Chippewa Bands. The US Justice Department and the Court acknowledged that 68.9 percent of these damages came from the undervaluation of timber and mismanagement of lands on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and later takings of Leech Lake lands to establish the Chippewa National Forest.
The United States took 600,000 acres away from the Leech Lake Band what was to be our permanent homeland under our Treaty with the United States. Instead of making Leech Lake whole, HR 1272 would give Leech Lake's portion of the settlement to the other five Bands, some of which lost less than one percent of their homelands.
In a statement issued this morning by Arthur "Archie" LaRose, tribal chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe:
It's always sad when Indian tribes have to fight each other over scraps left to us after the government inflicts damage on our communities. I agree that it's time to make amends for this dark period in Indian relations that took place 123 years ago. However, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe did not exist back then, holds no Treaty rights to the Leech Lake Reservation, and should have no legitimate say in how our damages should be distributed.
The Leech Lake people have waited more than a century to have our homelands returned. We are willing to negotiate a reasonable distribution with the other five Bands, but the current proposal is unacceptable, unfair and would only add insult the crushing injury that was done to our people over the past 100 years.
HR 1272 represents the first federal court settlement that would be distributed based on politics instead of the law. If it moves without addressing Leech Lake's concerns, we're prepared to return this issue to the court. The bill violates the US Constitution, and won't stand up.
This hearing will be webcast HERE
WHEN: Thursday, March 1
TIME: 11:00 am est
WHERE: Longworth House Office Building
The Honorable Arthur "Archie" LaRose
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
The Honorable Norman W. Deschampe
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
Accompanied by leaders of individual Bands of Chippewa
The Honorable Collin Peterson
Minnesota 7 District
Member of Congress
The Honorable Chip Cravaack
Minnesota 08 District
Member of Congress
Director Michael S. Black
Bureau of Indian Affairs
posted March 1, 2012 9:30 am est
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