Last summer, when Diane and I were driving cross country from Chicago, one of our stops was the Little Big Horn National Monument.
It was a pretty moving place, and one I had wanted to visit, for some reason, since as long as I can remember. I have always had a hard time with how the Native Americans were treated by invading Europeans. Still, one of the things the government has done, in addition to changing the name of the monument from The Custer Battleground, acknowledging that the Plains Indians were in a struggle to maintain their lands, their way of life, and in some ways their survival. (The government also began placing head stones where known Native American warriors fell, among other things.)
As we were driving out of the monument, and towards the Interstate that would take us to Billings that night, we saw a large modern complex of a building that looked like a convention center. Save we were really in the middle of nowhere. As we got close we saw the writing on the building, which state "Little Big Horn Casino." Swear.
Since Native Americans began building casinos, I have had this fantasy that in the end, they will get their country back by the rest of us gambling away our legacies as a result, initially, of a fit of greed. This just seems like a logical and cosmiclly balanced result. And, judging by the number of casinos in Montana--they are everywhere it seems--it won't take that long for us to be mortgaged.
But, I digress, for what I really want to talk about is the legal award the House voted to approve in the amount of $3.4 billion and award, the result of a 1996 lawsuit, brought against the government for mismanagement of Native American Trust Funds.
Aside from appropriating their money for projects without any knowledge of consent of the tribes, we also failed to pay them for things like drilling for oil on their land--which essentially means reservation--without paying'.
In addition, as part of the suit, $1.25 was awarded to African American farmers who were discriminated against when applying for small farm loans.
I don't know. How we continue to shamelessly try to cut corners and get away with stuff like this, assuming misguidedly that we are smarter than all the other cultures, not realizing that, for example, Arab and Asian cultures have histories that go back 6,000 years while our culture here is maybe around 400 years.
Of course, one of the problems with even the judgement, is that the award had to be approved by Congress in order to be paid out. And, there were those, like that brainy Michelle Bachman, and her posse mate Steve King, who think this is explotation and not really a true judgment of abuse. They think the award smacks of reparation.
And, you know, I can see why she would think that, because, well, we never seem to stop exploiting. It started with the beads and Manhattan. It seems it will never end.