GOOD DEEDS IN INDIAN COUNTRY

“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Clare Boothe Luce

I was just a little kid, but I remember when my grandpa wrote a book called “The Sun Came Down: The History of the World as My Blackfeet Elders Told It.” I remember looking out the window of our trailer over at my grandpa and grandma’s trailer as my uncle helped him load his and my grandma’s suitcase. I remember my smiling sisters throwing their bags into the trunk of my grandpa’s little Ford Escort—my beautiful little grandma Rose in the passenger seat—and me crying because my playmates/heroes were going to be gone for some time (my grandpa didn’t want to take me because, rumor was, that I was an especially rotten kid).

That book was a big deal, and it seemed like our people were proud of it. It came from the pen/typewriter of a Native man—a Blackfeet man—who wanted to see our stories told forever. The Native man was uneducated. He ran away from boarding school in sixth grade, therefore the grammar was imperfect and sentence structure left much to be desired, admittedly. Still, he was wise in Blackfeet traditional ways and he also understood certain things about human nature. That is, he knew that our Native ways—like all ways—will inevitably change, and that if young Natives are going to acquire the knowledge from our elders, the elders are going to have to employ different means of teaching. In fact, my grandpa wrote that the reason he wrote this book is because:

“All history the Native learns by heart, and must pass it on to the little ones as they grow up…It’s these days that the younger generation of every nationality do not have ears for such things. These young people are just too busy being smarties, radical, militant, with no respect for their elders. They do not want to listen to anyone except themselves…From all of this, our oral prehistory of us Natives is dying away and being forgotten.”

I think that history shows that my grandpa (and many other elders) was right. Now, many tribes preserve their languages by CD-ROMs and DVDs. Native languages are taught on-line. Although he was not a great writer and his plan was not perfect, my grandpa took the initiative to do, in his opinion, the right thing.

And he was punished for it.

Now don’t get me wrong, to this day, thankfully, many people still speak about my grandpa with respect and some even with reverence. But there was a substantial minority of people, a very vocal minority, who made their displeasure known. This vocal minority did not like the fact that my grandpa put our Creation stories and language into print so that all nationalities could see. I remember uncomfortable talks, conversations and whispers that said “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor.”

The criticisms hurt my grandpa deeply. He knew that he wasn’t above reproach. Heck, he expected criticism where he didn’t tell the story as well as he could have, or where he used bad grammar. That was fair game. But to question his intent or motivations seemed unfair; after all, he thought that he was doing this for our people. And frankly, it seemed somewhat cowardly for someone to criticize a person for doing a good thing that they were unwilling to do themselves.

It seemed like he deserved better than that.

Now, I am not a little kid anymore but I see that the same very vocal minority wants to punish every good deed in Indian Country. I paid close attention to the Elouise Cobell litigation and settlement and am amazed at the meanness and anger of the comments directed at her. Like my grandpa, she recognized that there was a need; she recognized that the U.S. took advantage of Natives for a long time and was not making any effort to make things right. Therefore, she proactively took steps to fix that situation—to right wrongs and address problems. Seems like a good thing.

Still, were her efforts perfect?

Not by a long-shot. I’m sure that if one was to ask Ms. Cobell, she would tell you that there were things—legally, administratively, and personally—that she and her team could have done better. She, like my grandpa, is not above reproach, and we should always think critically about our leadership. In fact, I’ll bet that she can probably point to a million mistakes that we’ve missed and don’t see, but she sees because she’s been looking over these documents for many years. My guess is that she’s probably her worst critic about this lawsuit and welcomes legal and administrative criticisms.

Still, it seems somewhat cowardly when people charge Elouise with the same criticisms that my grandpa faced: “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor,” “colluder.” She deserves better than that. For example, suggesting that Miss Cobell colluded with the government is silly and should be insulting to our collective intelligence. In the Cobell litigation, federal officials working on behalf of the government were charged with contempt of court twice for not producing documents that would help paint a clearer picture of the mismanagement. I think—not being an insider on the proceedings myself—that the government utilized every single procedural mechanism not to allow a settlement to happen.

But somehow she was working with the government?

In my estimation, this Native woman is a hero, a warrior. She is a hero because she was willing to do something that nobody else was willing to do—man or woman, Native or non-Native. She was willing to take initiative and take tiny, frustrating steps to actually solve a problem while most of us were just complaining. She is a warrior because she put her words into action, when most of us were content with just words; I mean, really—if she hasn’t brought this lawsuit, would anybody else have? I doubt it.

She’s a warrior.

We need to protect our heroes and encourage our warriors to take bold steps to help our people, like protecting our traditions or bringing lawsuits against the government. And while “protecting our heroes” does not mean that we shouldn’t critique them—they need to be questioned just like anyone else—those criticisms and questions should be “within family”–not in mainstream publications and in front of TV cameras. In short, we must not allow this small and very vocal minority to shoot down our Native warriors publicly. Moreover, while questioning the work and methods of our heroes is fair game, it seems somewhat cowardly to assault our own warriors’ integrity and question their honesty simply because we disagree with their work.

If we do not protect our heroes, at some point the small and very vocal minority is going to create a situation where no Native wants to take initiative to help our people. In that situation, no Native will want to be a warrior because they understand that no good deed goes unpunished and everyone only pays attention to the flaws. Pretty soon, the only do-gooders will be white folks and non-Natives who want to “save” us. At that time, all of Native peoples’ most noble will be in corporations quietly achieving success without the stress and disrespect of constantly pointed fingers. Whether we agree or disagree with our warriors’ battles, in my humble estimation, we need to support our warriors and our heroes, like Elouise Cobell. We need to ensure that that all parties—Natives, non-Natives, and the mainstream media—know that we truly appreciate the efforts of our warriors and, although we might disagree with them, we will not tolerate personal attacks against our warriors.

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Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 4:05 am  Comments (31)  

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  1. Gyasi: You are right on. I wrote about Eloise, and questioned the process and the ultimate outcome, but expressed my admiration for her and for her leadership. She did what no one seemed to want to do, and she persisted. Her grueling schedule now has her visiting almost tribe by tribe to explain. There will be people who call her a traitor and opportunist, but I think they are in a minority…..albeit a very loud minority. I’m glad you are writing about those heroes. loved the story about Grandpa. Hang in there.

  2. I believe the saying is “Crabs in a Bucket” If one tries to get out the others are there to bring them back down. I am in no way a hero who has done anything special, but I do feel the punishment from people for dong my job. I do accept criticism for what I have done, and believe I can better myself from it. However when it is done in a way to not allow anyone to move forward, after a while there becomes a point where one does not wish to try anymore. I am guilty of being jealous of someone that has done better, but have to stop myself. I remind myself to be happy for them. They got there by having a talent, and by working hard. If we all realize that we are our own worst enemy then we can all help each other move forward. This way we can can begin pushing each other up to get out instead of pulling each other back into the bucket we have created by being negative.

  3. I do not agree. Courage is the act of overcoming fear. When a warrior walks out alone away from the pack in order to do what is right, there are great risks involved in such actions. If someone is too cowardly to not walk out alone, then he/she deserves for what he/she settles. Those who try take on the great risk of failure, but that should not deter someone from trying in the first place. Failures/mistakes allow the individual as well as the those surrounding the individual to move forward. Human history plays this out many times over.

    I broke away from the pack for the right thing in order to protect vulnerable women and children among several tribal communities. Indian who were very well aware of the situation, but never had the courage to step forward, even were telling me that they were supporting me 110% and would back me up. However, when reality hit, they jumped shipped and took positions that advanced them in exchange for their collusion. I was hung out to dry, and it hurt severely, but in the end, I learned from the situation. I learned from my mistakes, and I moved on. I continue to keep doing the right thing, even if the risk of pain and betrayal is imminent.

    I have been examining the Cobell case, and at least my tribe had filed a similar lawsuit against the government. Instead of hearing my tribe’s case in court, it got denied because it was of the same nature of the Cobell lawsuit. My tribe sits atop the Bakken Formation, which is apparently the largest oil & natural gas reserve in the world. Many people have a problem with Cobell negotiating for all of us. As you know, there are over 500 tribes with diverse ways of handling tribal affairs. To lump us all together and have one spokesperson and negotiator for us is a problem when a lot of people do not agree that her negotiation results in the best situation for us. For anyone opting into the Cobell settlement to not be able to bring a claim against the government after the Cobell settlement is especially concerning. I do not agree with the land consolidation fund or the education fund. Lavetta Elk just won a case based on the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. My family members always seem to be in court cases against the federal government. So far, the Cobell settlement sets up many dangerous precedents. Apparently, it will be a victory for individual Indians, but is it truly responsible? Each time I evaluate her settlement, I cannot conclude that her settlement acts to serve justice. She is welcome to settle for herself and the plaintiffs who want to settle like that. However, I simply know that it took the Jews ~5000 years to get their land back, so a hasty decision after 13 years is nothing.

    Also, for her to call those of us who object to the settlement, “people who do not understand the settlement” and “enemies of Indians”, is not helpful to her case either. If that is how she negotiates with Indians, she certainly sets herself up for criticism regarding even how rational she can be in a negotiation with the federal government.

  4. I never heard a thing about Elouise Cobell untill today. I looked her up and wow! I can clearly see why you would call her your hero! Our true leaders break paths for our future generations to walk into. I feel bad for those who can’t see this. When I was very young my grandmother, Alice Frost, was the first and only (elected) woman Chief in our community. One day at a community meeting she recieved a letter which outlined every single bad thing about her, trash talked her and the job she was doing in the community, all negative talk. What did she do you ask? Well she took that letter and read it out to the entire community without mentioning any names. She then thanked that person. She thanked them for pointing out some of the things she needs to work on. She showed the true qualities of leadership while breaking the cylce of latteral violence. The art of the Dojo, embrace or deflect. She was and always will be my hero.

  5. At this point the US Congress must pass into law the settlement that has been offered in the Cobell suit. Indian country could decide that the settlement offer is too low and probably derail the whole thing. I think it is too low because it only amounts to something like $1500 per plaintiff. That’s what a nice storage shed costs, I could use a new storage shed but I don’t think that having one would compensate for the decades of impoverishment my family has experienced because the US government mismanaged our assets! I mean, we can’t live very well in the storage shed. That’s not mean to say, it is just my opinion. If it wasn’t for Eloise Cobell we wouldn’t be in a position to demand a larger settlement. She’s a great leader, let’s back her up in demanding a larger settlement though, I would also take land instead of money, that would be even better.

  6. my niece told the family, when our sister took on a power company in the 90’s, “this is not the best time to take on the bush admin., they despise Indians” and she was right but we went ahead. Not all were sure of what was happening when we went to court. some of them asked sis “what are you doing, trying to get something for yourself?” as an enrolled member of the nez perce tribe, I say we need more like Louise Cobell, who have the courage to “fight the Power”

  7. There is another mentality that keeps our indigenous people at bay if not pulling them down deeper into the bucket. It is the herd mentality. What are we afraid of? or what are we hiding? Without questioning, who is to say what is right or wrong on issues that affect all our indigenous people not only now but into the future? Who is to say we are being mislead or not? With such a mentality people are easily mislead over and over. This is a huge issue and not taken lightly by some people or brushed off, people have children and future grandchildren to think of, this is not the case of preserving a language or stories this is a legal issue that affects indigenous people as a whole. Your grandfather had to make a decision on what was right based on what was told and given to him. Have all the people of all the tribes given this right to make their decisions to 1 person?.

    It is simple to debate good points and bad points but to say an audience is in the minority or majority is without factual basis and misleading. Away from the pack clearly described a situation where a whole tribe was denied rights to plead there case. Are you going to say they are in the minority they don’t have a voice? I don’t think this issue is about who is a hero, it’s about innocent people who have been exploited and apparently it looks like there will be no justice or peace.

  8. I really get the sense that many people, including the author, have not read the propopsed settlement or understand the ramifications. Mrs. Cobell has fought long and hard for an ACCOUNTING OF THE MONEY but the settlement she has agreed to, on our behalf as class action plaintiffs, goes way beyond what the 14 years of litigation entailed. There is no judicial record for them to create an entirely new class of plaintiffs and then attempt to settle and extinguish claims for MISMANAGEMENT OF THE ACTUAL LAND AND THE NATURAL RESOURCE ASSETS – THE TIMBER, THE GRAZNG LANDS, THE MINERALS, THE WATER. This is just one of the litany of complaints I find. The other big one is that the BIA gets to spend the $2 billion land consolidation fund and then, after 10 years, whatever has not been spent goes back to the Treasury. Who’s to say who will be the head of the Dept. of Interior in 3 years? We could have a whole new set of players who don’t care about spending money on repatriating our lands. I do not wish to slander Mrs. Cobell but this settlement is not a good thing for Indian Country.

  9. I really get the sense that many people, including the author, have not read the propopsed settlement or understand its ramifications. Mrs. Cobell has fought long and hard for an ACCOUNTING OF THE MONEY but the settlement she has agreed to, on our behalf as class action plaintiffs, goes way beyond what the 14 years of litigation entailed. There is no judicial record for them to create an entirely new class of plaintiffs and then attempt to settle and extinguish claims for MISMANAGEMENT OF THE ACTUAL LAND AND THE NATURAL RESOURCE ASSETS – THE TIMBER, THE GRAZNG LANDS, THE MINERALS, THE WATER. This is just one of the litany of complaints I find. The other big one is that the BIA gets to spend the $2 billion land consolidation fund and then, after 10 years, whatever has not been spent goes back to the Treasury. Who’s to say who will be the head of the Dept. of Interior in 3 years? We could have a whole new set of players who don’t care about spending money on repatriating our lands. I do not wish to slander Mrs. Cobell but this settlement is not a good thing for Indian Country.

  10. I think Gyassi is an atty, right? If he read the settlement how could he come away with such acclaim for cobell-to even an informed lay person, her greedy nature made the ring thru her nose that much easier to be inserted! Solid procedural opinion says the
    ‘reverter clauses’ [unclaimed funds reverting back to Def: DOI/DOJ, or even left in their control!] have been adjudged unfair by courts time/again in class action litigation-its an obvious conflict of interest [just like cobell has]!So why should we be subjugated by ‘bad [expensive] lawyering’ of her choosing? One of her/my/our attys-david smith-calls a ‘class party’ an esteemed law professor, a ‘clown’ publically, in cobell’s presence with no reaction from her! How often does an atty ‘bad mouth’ his client publically and how often do adversarial parties go wild trying to coerce the class parties to accept THEIR agreement
    etc..Gyassi? You seem to be that full of yourself-use your legal training and comment on these remarks ASAP!
    Soon history will reveal cobell is just another greedy
    self-promoter played like a strativarious by DC attys!

  11. Thank you, everyone, for your input.

    Kimberly, I appreciate your comments as well and understand what you’re saying. If you’re asking if I have a cursory knowledge of the proposed settlement agreement, I say “yes.” If your question is whether I have an in-depth understanding of the proposed settlement agreement, I gladly concede “no,” I do not–thank God. I’ll likewise gladly concede that you likely know 100 million times more than me the overall implications of the proposed settlement agreement.

    Still, please note that my thoughts are not directed toward the substantive issues underlying–it’s at the overarching treatment of the people who bring forth the substantive issues. I commend you for bringing forth substantive issues in a respectful, reasonable way–I do not think that you’re someone who’s been in “attack mode.” But there are those who, instead of questioning the process or legal machinations behind this 1) litigation and 2) proposed settlement, would rather attack the people behind them.

    In fact, I submit that many of our (by “our” I mean Native people) substantive debates quickly deterioriate into personal attacks. For example, calling Elouise a “greedy self-promoter played like a strativarious by DC attys” when they can easily say that “I disgaree with the settlement,” or asserting that one is “full of himself” for simply raising a reasonable issue that reasonable minds can differ on. I cannot say that I’m immune to it–of course–I’ve said things that I regret and wished that I was more constructive at times. Still, even though I’ve done it in the past, I don’t understand that tendency–why do we, Native people, feel a need to break each other down so much?

  12. Gyasi, I appreciate your willingness to put yourself on the line by writing these articles of sensitive nature. I always learn something from your articles be it good or bad but I do appreciate your courage to put yourself and your work on the line.

    I believe this article is a great example of “no good deed goes unpunished.” I have little to no knowledge on the Cobell case but I was taught that you support what is right and what is true. The case might have been over arching and may have huge negative impacts but the fact is…Mrs. Cobell was willing to take this case on. It is downright disgusting that the federal government can tell another tribe they cannot bring their case forward because of this case. Why are we yelling at Mrs. Cobell over that?

    Why are we as Native people not up in arms together refusing to settle for less? Why are we not marching the steps of DC demanding what is rightfully ours? Why are we not uniting on this case to show the rest of the world how wrong tribal nations and individual tribal members are constantly being screwed over by the government? Why have we not stepped up our game and said, “Enough is Enough! We will not tolerate this abuse!” It is not okay for the federal government to dismiss us. I am by no means a lawyer as you can tell by my writing but I am a concerned tribal member.

    I am concerned our native people are not being radical enough. We need our warriors with brilliant minds to fight in court but when that doesn’t work we need our warriors of strength to fight on the front line for us. We have native warriors of every type. Stand up and fight for what is rightfully ours.

    April 6th in WA there is a consultation with the Park Services regarding “allowing” tribes to supervise some of the forest service’s land for them. This will help them with budget cuts and will give tribes better access to our traditional gathering areas. Are tribes going to go in with a…please let us have some 20 acres to supervise or are tribes going to go in demanding our lands back? Why do tribal members have to pay to camp fees? Why are tribal members told when they can and cannot access these areas?

    All of the National Parks and State Parks were our traditional territory! Every day we fight for something…but are you fighting for what will help us as native people or are you fighting just to fight? I am by no means an expert on this…all I know is what I have been taught and I am always willing to learn.

    Keep up the fight to all my native warriors. This is all I have to say. t’igwicid – thank you

  13. As someone who has studied law there should be a little understanding of human behavior or motive. There are only a few basic motivations that drive human behavior power, money, sex, fame. One would think a person would eventually get tired of being mislead over and over by corrupt leaders. This would eventually lead to finding out why this happens over and over. Again motive. Either constructively, intuitively or simply out of a sense of distrust people will react or take constructive steps to find the motive before group think sets in on an issue they see as threatening to our people. This is just a quick assessment and opinion on your question.

  14. Its a tough road-street! I grew up in abject poverty on tribal lands in SD! What we didn’t have in status and belongings we had in the sterling beauty and solitude of prairie living! It was 1970 before I saw a TV on a regular basis and accessed indoor plumbing/ heat but we made due! Ate of nature’s bounty and gramma did not succumb to whiteman’s commerce much-if at all! Given that childhood landscape I feel blessed-
    I know gramma/grampa they wouldn’t be excited about another tribe taking up her cause like cobell is here! I understand the outright anger at cobell and the references to greed made against her-do I think like the author who lauds her like a ‘conquering hero’ no she just found her niche and wrote up a guest list but forgot to send out invitations but still partied like we were all there! Her attys call Natives names in print media but to let hair down with cobell, gets rebuke-no Gyasi, she may be YOUR HERO but it’s not infectious to the many other who feel scammed and used!

  15. Most of what I read is anti-settlement and gyasi thinks she’s a ‘warrior’ [gender-neutral phrase?] but someone speak to Earl OP-it’s written that when he questioned the litigation’s refocus/focus, he was summarily-‘kicked off the lawsuit!’ I can buy this since cobell makes no apologies for her ovearreaching with those ‘DC attys’; those attys will publicly denegrate their own client, if any sophisticated/
    germane protest is made-they said they worked for free ‘for 14 yrs’..guess what, they say ‘you get what you paid for’ or even lawyering ‘worth every penny!’
    paid…gyasi, you’re a lawyer so why are so apathetic
    of the procedural defects/forum-shopping, etc..nature
    of this litigation? You focus on name-calling which cobell team instituted and others picked up when as an atty, the warped legal nature of cobell should strike you ‘where your lawyer lives!’ right? Let us know! Don’t be just a polarizing entity, go out on a limb-like every Native writer must to help-and be a muckraker-type! There’s plenty to be outraged about!

  16. If all this energetic outrage and accusations against Eloise Cobell had been directed at the government decades ago, Eloise wouldn’t have to struggle so hard now. I’ve known Elouise for fifty years. I was her husband’s English teacher. They live on the same little old allotment that was given to Politte Pepion when the Dawes act was passed. There was plenty of criticism of that, too. Same house with a few improvements. She and Turk have earned everything they have.

    Eloise’s secret of success begins with her classmate cohort way back there when she got A’s in bookkeeping in high school. I don’t know what happened then but it has been a group of real achievers, mostly born when the fathers came back from WWII. She continued over the years until she was part of the creation of one of the first Native American banks in the country. It was badly needed. She’s got the guts and pizzazz to run with the bulls and stick it out to the end.

    It’s easy to let someone else take the risks and then tell everyone what’s wrong with their plan. It’s a fine thing when an old white woman appreciates your heroines more than you do.

    I’ll say this: I challenge every complainer to put their share of the pay-out (which will vary according to what their land-owning history is) into a fund for the neediest tribal members. They clearly know how to take care of themselves.

    Prairie Mary
    Meek-skim-yaqui
    Nahpi-yaqui

    • Lady I agree with the following remark-I know you want to pine in on your cobell sentiment but the story’s not over yet-stay tuned! America is built on ‘false oath’ the intrinsic tool of diabolical one and my pt is just because you were able to inculcate cobell to white thinking-that everything has a US dollar sign to-doesn’t mean its the right or only way to go! ‘A’s’ in whiteman’s school may not be a passing grade in supernatural realms! Lakota ways diametrically opposed in thought/theory
      than mainstream ways-America creates problems by design because it’s rulers-Fed Reserve-love $$! Now
      cobell is used to try to get us to sell out for a few trinkets [lessons she may have learned in your
      bookkeeping class?]. US’s standard of living is sinking fast-now about 40th-the wealthiest .7% own
      over 40% of America’s wealth! What kind of society is that? banksters [cobell/gingold] are squeezing
      out the middle-class!Is that anyway to live-crumbs droppings off gluttonous [$] mouths of the status quo? Cobell may honestly not know better either!

  17. This is getting hilarious. Lady people don’t want this. Why would they support your challenge they don’t want in the first place? This hasn’t even been officially settled yet. What’s the point? Maybe after a desicion, a challenge will be proper in terms of the outcome. Meanwhile I have a challenge for you seeing you really want to help, why don’t you get your peers(white people complaining about indigenous peoples right to voice their opinion on there own issues) and give your land back to our people.

  18. What you are missing is that this lawsuit was not a bribe to offended Indians so they’d be quiet. It forces the genuine reform of the bookkeeping process from here on out so that the People actually get what’s coming to them. THAT money will be enormous. No more bailouts of Chrysler using Indian money.

    I had not realized that so many NA’s were teabaggers. I thought that at the Boston Tea Party whites went aboard the ships to dump tea but disguised as Indians because no one would expect proper behavior from Indians.

    Prairie Mary

    • I am not a teabagger.

      You categorized every NA a teabagger.

      The Boston colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians to hide their identity. The act of throwing the tea into the Boston Harbor was one of revolt, which was a prelude to the American Revolution. Was this proper behavior on behalf of the colonist? To blame the Indians for the acts of the colonist?

      [N]o more bailouts using Indian money. Is this a fact or is/was it just money, not Indian money.

      I think as Tribal People we could probably do with some heroes. But then again most of our HEROs turn out to be someone in our families. We had an English professor ask the Native American class he was teaching to write about their “heros”. And this was what he came up with: My Grandmother, my Grandfather, my parents, some other relative or a family friend.

      Being a hero to these individuals might have included someone who came everyday to cook for them and being over 500 miles away from home is lonely for that person, a relative who took them in and cared for them when their parents couldn’t, an uncle who was in the military who sent them something from where ever he was in the world. Stories like these, you might think they are simple story’s but that Person was the HERO.

      I remember being in the 3rd grade when our teacher asked us to write about our hero and she gave us a list…George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, meaning no disrespect but ha ha … I’m in the third grade ok, never really went off the reservation and really have no idea or desire to know who these people are.

      I recall wanting to write about my father, but was told by the White 3rd grade teacher to stick to the list. So much for non-Indian public school education.

  19. Yeah sure there going to give this bailout money to tribes because prairie mary said so(Loud laughter from indians in the audience). So what your admitting is that your still stealing from us, and you just want us to be like proper indians and be quiet or your going to send us to the principals office, sign the no bribe deal and you will quit stealing from us forever and you will funnel all future potential stealable assets to the tribes. Chrysler or no other company will receive any bailouts (isn’t that ateaparty-issue?).

    It seems there are white people who do not want indigenous people to discuss there own individual views on our own indigenous issues but only see unintelligence and would rather have quiet obedient subjects who they can send to the principals office(laughter from the back of audience).

  20. Don’t worry. Some of those kids I sent to the office turned out really well. I think there were six superintendents of schools. One is the State Superintendent of all the Montana Schools.

    Prairie Mary

    • That’s OK mary-I was a ‘kindergarten drop out’ but because of supernatural forces I still have a marble or two rolling around in the brain housing group! Trust reform was enacted BEFORE cobell so like every rapacious being[s] gingold talked Earl OP off the matter and amended the Complaint! I venerate education but I more venerate moral compasses-school marm, is it possible to blend them? Let me know! Talk up your work with cobell but stay open-minded and the edification will continue for you/me/cobell/anyone so willing!

    • I guess that’s why our unemployment, drug/alcohol abuse, dropout rate, use of elctronic games/entertainment is so low is because nobody wanted to miss out on a second of Mary’s superior amazing teaching.

  21. And that throughout our future history Mary thinks that maybe 6 of us will become superintendents because as she thinks she is the great master and ruler above all our indigenous people has willed it in her mighty plan to set us straight as to be proper indians, so don’t worry. Is there anything else I need to add Prairie Mary? Maybe a few comments on the education system today that has spawned yourself? Or do you want to expel me for being indigenous?

  22. Aw, heck! Corky Evans is still mad at me for putting him on detention for reading books in English class — he says he thought you were SUPPOSED to read books in English class. It was written in ENGLISH, wasn’t it? He’s white. We get along pretty good. I almost flunked out of Blackfeet language class, though. Did better with Blackfeet history.

    I hardly know Eloise. I’ve even lost track of Turk, but I drive past their place now and then or pick up a little second-hand news. One of the major improvements was the judge-ordered reform of the hackable computer system the feds were using. But it’s hard to overestimate the importance of the publicity the case got into the newspapers. Especially when the judge found the feds in contempt of court!

    Prairie Mary

  23. I have the utmost respect for Elouise Cobell…it’s tough putting it into words the admiration that I feel.. I remember reading when she first approached attorneys for the lawsuit they told her that she needed a million dollar retainer, and she managed to come up with the money – the average person would have been dissuaded and walked away – it’s truly mind blowing what this woman has accomplished, it gives me hope….

    The US govt has done sooooo much evil against Native Americans and this suit forces them to readdress some of those wrongs… We’ve all been wronged but how many actually do something about it??????? Almost none

    I know my family history, I have a copy of a letter written by my great auntie to the Indian agent dated 1904 regarding her tribal membership and land allotments, and she’s almost pleading, and they just blew her off… I cant read it anymore it brings tears to my eyes.. And I remember reading that when Elouise Cobell first went to Washington DC to inquire about the trust accounts, the gov’t reps blew her off – told her in so many words “none of your business”… This reminded me of my auntie’s letter, she was just asking for her rights (treaty rights) and they shot her down…

    It’s awe inspiring and mind blowing what Ms Cobell has accomplished… But with this type of success, you become a target for haters… You cant please everyone, but as lead plaintiff you have to try, and she seems to be doing this by holding public forums and addressing the members concerns… And if folks still don’t agree with the settlement, they can be proactive, opt out, and sue for themselves.. Ms Cobell laid down the foundation and has shown us (and the world) that one person with drive, determination, intelligence, and a strong spirit can go up against the most powerful nation in the world and WIN! – how awesome is that!!!! My family will be going up against the gov’t regarding our citizenship, land allotments and rez land, so I know what’s involved in suing the gov’t, and that’s why I have the utmost respect for Ms Cobell and what she’s accomplished…

  24. I seen mentions of between $50 million to $100 million that Cobell’s Lawyers would get. In the Blackfeet Reservation Develoment Fund annual reports there is mention of a lawyer Gingold 157,050 for 2008 267,176 in 2007. There are legal fees from 2002 – 2008 but nothing near $50 million

    http://tfcny.fdncenter.org/990s/990search/esearch.php

    The link should take you there if not google Foundation Center – 990 finder and type in Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund for organiztion name.

    The only other source of Lawyers I have found working on the case were a NARF attorney in a report written by the Lannan Foundation which also mentioned Gingold.

    http://www.lannan.org/lf/ic/special-projects/blackfeet-reservation-development-fund/

    Where are the other lawyers involved and how and why do they get such a high figure?

  25. and I forgot to mention the lawyer Gingold was paid by the Blackfeet Reservation Develoment Fund under legal services.

  26. Oh yeah Gyasi you kind of lost me with your hair thing.

  27. So where are all you pessimists now?

    Prairie Mary


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