The Issue of Social Justice in Indian Country

Laurence Armand French, Western New Mexico University

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot Indian banker, filed suit against the United States government, notably the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and U.S. Department of the Treasury, for the mismanagement and loss of some 10 billions of dollars of Indian trust monies relevant to the leasing of Indian lands to non-Indians for the purpose of grazing, logging, mining and oil drilling. Corruption and exploitation were presented as the main reason for this breach of trust and the resulting harm it has done to Indian people for more than a century. John Echohawk, spokesperson for NARF, noted: "The Bureau of Indian Affairs has spent more than 100 years mismanaging, diverting and losing money that belongs to Indians". This paper looks at this phenomenon and the on-going legal battle.

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Updated 05/20/2006