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What Native Americans Are Owed

Monday, June 16, 2008

Del Quentin Wilber ["What Is Owed to Native Americans? Judge Hopes to Settle Question in Suit Over Oil, Gas Royalties," In the Loop, June 11] gave a succinct overview of a momentous trial concerning what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has called "government malfeasance" regarding the handling of individual Indian trust accounts over the past century. Federal mismanagement of profits from 10 million acres of Indian land has kept generations of Native American families in poverty despite their substantial assets.

In 2005, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) proposed reforms to the Interior Department's accounting system for Indian trust funds and a settlement to repay the money owed. Finding a judicial or legislative remedy to repay the families is not only a fiduciary matter -- it is a moral responsibility.

PATRICIA POWERS

Legislative Secretary; Native American Affairs

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Washington

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