While politicians in Washington and pundits on TV bicker over the word Redskins, American Indians face a bevy of real problems at the hands of federal bureaucracy.
Americans are no doubt familiar with the early problems between white settlers and natives, along with the federal government’s brutal relocation in the Trail of Tears, but far fewer are aware of how poorly American Indians are faring in the present-day United States.
New York Post columnist and author Naomi Schaefer Riley says these problems amount to a new Trail of Tears. In Riley’s book by that name, she discusses the rampant sexual abuse, high crime rates, and widespread poverty troubling American Indians on the reservations and explains their causes.
American Indians have the same rights under the law as other Americans, but when they are on reservations, they lose control of important decisions about their lives and towns. Most issues on reservations are decided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a hapless and destructive federal agency.
The land on reservations is mostly communal, owned by the tribe and run by a bureaucracy rather than bought and sold by individuals, which creates hurdles for American Indians living on reservations to start businesses and succeed on their own. Reservation land loses much of its value because of the government role in its management, while most of the jobs available on reservations are government jobs. Decisions are based primarily on government and tribal interests, with the interests of individual American Indians often left in the dust.