Large Indian Tribes Hurt by Obama Regulations on Coal

(p. 1) . . . some of the largest tribes in the United States derive their budgets from the very fossil fuels that Mr. Trump has pledged to promote, including the Navajo in the Southwest and the Osage in Oklahoma, as well as smaller tribes like the Southern Ute in Colorado. And the Crow are among several Indian nations looking to the president’s promises to nix Obama-era coal rules, pull back on regulations, or approve new oil and gas wells to help them lift their economies and wrest control (p. 14) from a federal bureaucracy they have often seen as burdensome.
The president’s executive order on Tuesday [March 28, 2017], which called for a rollback of President Barack Obama’s climate change rules, is a step toward some of these goals.
At the tribes’ side is Ryan Zinke, who as the new interior secretary is charged with protecting and managing Indian lands, which hold an estimated 30 percent of the nation’s coal reserves west of the Mississippi and 20 percent of known oil and gas reserves in the United States.
In a recent interview, Mr. Zinke noted that he was once adopted into the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes and said he would help native nations get fossil fuels to market.
“We have not been a good partner in this,” he said. “The amount of bureaucracy and paperwork and stalling in many ways has created great hardship on some of the poorest tribes.
“A war on coal is a war on the Crow people,” he continued. “President Trump has promised to end the war.”

For the full story, see:
JULIE TURKEWITZ. “Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump’s Promises.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., APRIL 2, 2017): 1 & 14.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 1, 2017, and has the title “Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump’s Promises.”)

Let Individual Indians Own Land on Reservations

Mortgaging homes is a common way for entrepreneurs to provide initial funds for their startups. So our keeping individual Indians from owning land on reservations, cuts off their access to funds for entrepreneurship.
The commentary quoted below is related to a book edited by Anderson and contributed to by Regan.

(p. A13) . . . , Native Americans showed a remarkable ability to adapt to new goods and technology. Italian trade beads became an integral part of American Indian decoration and art. The Spanish horse transformed Plains Indian hunting and warfare.

Over centuries, however, these adaptations and innovations have been replaced by subjugation by the U.S. government. In 1831, Chief Justice John Marshall declared the Cherokees to be a “domestic dependent nation” and characterized the relationship of tribes to the U.S. as resembling “that of a ward to his guardian.” Marshall’s words were entrenched when Congress became trustee of all Indian lands and resources under the Dawes Act of 1887.
In recent decades, the government has paid lip service to “tribal sovereignty,” but in practice Native Americans have little autonomy. Tribes and individual Indians still cannot own their land on reservations. This means Native Americans cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans, thus allowing them little or no access to credit. This makes it incredibly difficult to start a business in Indian Country. Even when tribes try to engage in economic activity, the feds impose mountains of regulations, all in the name of looking after Indian affairs.

For the full commentary, see:
TERRY L. ANDERSON and SHAWN REGAN. “It’s Time for the Feds to Get Out of Indian Country; A permit to develop energy resources requires 49 steps on tribal lands and just four steps off reservations.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Oct. 8, 2016): A13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 7, 2016.)

The book mentioned at the top of this entry, is:
Anderson, Terry L., ed. Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2016.

American Indians Suffer from Lack of Property Rights

(p. A15) There are almost no private businesses or entrepreneurs on Indian reservations because there are no property rights. Reservation land is held in trust by the federal government and most is also owned communally by the tribe. It’s almost impossible for tribe members to get a mortgage, let alone borrow against their property to start a business. The Bureau of Indian Affairs regulates just about every aspect of commerce on reservations.
Instead of giving Indians more control over their own land–allowing them to develop natural resources or use land as collateral to start businesses–the federal government has offered them what you might call a loophole economy. Washington carves out a sector of the economy, giving tribes a regulatory or tax advantage over non-Indians. But within a few years the government takes it away, in many cases leaving Indian tribes as impoverished and more disheartened than they were before.
. . .
What American Indians need first is less regulation. There is a reason that Native Americans say BIA, the initials for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, really stands for “Bossing Indians Around.”

For the full commentary, see:
NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY. “The Loophole Economy Is No Jackpot for Indians; Running casinos or selling tax-free cigarettes can’t substitute for what tribes truly need: property rights.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 28, 2016): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 27, 2016.)

The above commentary by Riley is related to her book, which is:
Riley, Naomi Schaefer. The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians. New York: Encounter Books, 2016.

Heart Disease Affected Ancients Who Differed in Culture, Class and Diet

EgyptologistPreparesMummy2013-06-16.jpg “Egyptologist Dr. Gomaa Abd el-Maksoud prepares the mummy Hatiay (New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1295 BCE) for scanning. Hatiay was found to have evidence of extensive vascular disease.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A4) SAN FRANCISCO–It turns out there is nothing new about heart disease.

Researchers who examined 137 mummies from four cultures spanning 4,000 years said Sunday they found robust evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, challenging widely held assumptions that cardiovascular disease is largely a malady of current times.
An international research team of cardiologists, radiologists and archeologists used CT scanners to evaluate the mummies, hunting for deposits of calcium in arterial walls that are a telltale sign of hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. They found that 47, or 34%, of the mummies had such deposits, suggesting, they said, that cardiovascular disease was more common in historic times than many experts think.
. . .
The same researchers reported similar findings in 2009 from Egyptian mummies. Because those specimens were believed to have been from the upper echelons of society, the researchers surmised their calcified arteries could have developed from high-fat diets. But by expanding the research to other cultures, including Puebloans of what is now the U.S. Southwest, the researchers believe all levels of society were at risk, regardless of diet.

For the full story, see:
RON WINSLOW. “U.S. NEWS; Telltale Finding on Heart Disease.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., March 11, 2013): A6.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date March 10, 2013.)

“Before British Settlement” American Indians Lived Lives of “Violence, Terror and Stoic Suffering”

TheBarbarousYearsBK2013-03-09.jpg

Source of book image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mfln_Fc2NF4/ULE7koH_h7I/AAAAAAAAD1Y/4AOrpodtoac/s1600/9780394515700.jpg

(p. C8) Mr. Bailyn opens with an account of the Indians of eastern North America in the years before English settlement. He reviews their economy, technology, religion and much else, drawing examples from the Powhatan, the Pequot and other tribes. He emphasizes the violence, terror and stoic suffering in their lives rather more than the contemporary specialists in the subject would, but brutality–on just about everyone’s part–is a major theme throughout this book.

For the full review, see:
J.R. MCNEILL. “BOOKSHELF; Before Plymouth Rock, and After.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., November 17, 2012): C8.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 16, 2012.)

Book under review:
Bailyn, Bernard. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

Socialism Failed in Jamestown

(p. 226) Stephen Slivinski discusses “Economic History: The Lessons of Jamestown.” In the years after the Jamestown settlement of 1607, the settlers often lacked food. “The company sent Sir Thomas Dale, a British naval commander, to take over the office of colony governor in 1611. Yet, upon arrival in May–a time when the farmers should have been tending to their fields–Dale found virtually no planting activity. Instead, the workers were devoted mainly to leisure and ‘playing bowls.’ . . . All land was owned by the company and farmed collectively. . . . The workers would not hope to reap more compensation from a productive farming of the land any more than the farmers would be motivated by an interest in making their farming operations more efficient and, hence, more profitable. Seeing this, Dale decided to change the labor arrangements: When the seven-year contracts of most of the original surviving settlers were about to expire in 1614, he assigned private allotments of land to them. Each got three acres, 12 acres if he had a family. The only obligation was that they needed to provide two and a half barrels of corn annually to the company so it could be distributed to the newcomers to tide them over during their first year. Dale left Jamestown for good in 1616. By then, however, the new land grants had unleashed a vast increase in agricultural productivity. In fact, upon returning to England with Dale, John Rolfe–one of the colony’s former leaders–reported to the Virginia Company that the Powhatans were now asking the colonists to give them corn instead of vice versa.”

As quoted in:
Taylor, Timothy. “Recommendations for Further Reading.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 24, no. 4 (Fall 2010): 219-26.
(Note: ellipses added by Taylor.)

The Slivinski article is:
Slivinski, Stephen. “The Lessons of Jamestown.” Region Focus 14, no. 1 (First Quarter 2010): 27-29.

Chocolate Evidence of Early Indian Trade

CacaoJarsInRuins2009-11-11.JPG“Tests of jars found in the ruins of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico confirmed the presence of theobromine, a cacao marker.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A14) ALBUQUERQUE — For years Patricia Crown puzzled over the cylindrical clay jars found in the ruins at Chaco Canyon, the great complex of multistory masonry dwellings set amid the arid mesas of northwestern New Mexico. They were utterly unlike other pots and pitchers she had seen.

Some scholars believed that Chaco’s inhabitants, ancestors of the modern Pueblo people of the Southwest, had stretched skins across the cylinders and used them for drums, while others thought they held sacred objects.
But the answer is simpler, though no less intriguing, Ms. Crown asserts in a paper published Tuesday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: the jars were used for drinking liquid chocolate. Her findings offer the first proof of chocolate use in North America north of the Mexican border.
How did the ancient Pueblos come to have cacao beans in the desert, more than 1,200 miles from the nearest cacao trees? Ms. Crown, a University of New Mexico anthropologist, noted that maize, beans and corn spread to the Southwest after being domesticated in southern Mexico. Earlier excavations at Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure in the Chaco complex, had found scarlet macaws and other imported items.

For the full story, see:

MICHAEL HAEDERLE. “Mystery of Ancient Pueblo Jars Is Solved.” The New York Times (Weds., February 4, 2009): A14.

(Note: the online version is dated Tues., Feb. 3rd.)

CacaoJar2009-11-11.jpg

“Researchers believe ancient Pueblos used the jars to drink chocolate.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Noble Savages Were Not So Noble

(p. A20) The idea that primitive hunter-gatherers lived in harmony with the landscape has long been challenged by researchers, who say Stone Age humans in fact wiped out many animal species in places as varied as the mountains of New Zealand and the plains of North America. Now scientists are proposing a new arena of ancient depredation: the coast.

In an article in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Oregon cite evidence of sometimes serious damage by early inhabitants along the coasts of the Aleutian Islands, New England, the Gulf of Mexico, South Africa and California’s Channel Islands, where the researchers do fieldwork.
“Human influence is pretty pervasive,” one of the authors, Torben C. Rick of the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, said in an interview. “Hunter-gatherers with fairly simple technology were actively degrading some marine ecosystems” tens of thousands of years ago.

For the full story, see:

CORNELIA DEAN. “Ancient Man Hurt Coasts, Paper Says.” The New York Times (Fri., August 21, 2009): A20.

Native Americans Suffer from Government Health Care

(p. A11) Native Americans have received federally funded health care for decades. A series of treaties, court cases and acts passed by Congress requires that the government provide low-cost and, in many cases, free care to American Indians. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is charged with delivering that care.

The IHS attempts to provide health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in one of two ways. It runs 48 hospitals and 230 clinics for which it hires doctors, nurses, and staff and decides what services will be provided. Or it contracts with tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act passed in 1975. In this case, the IHS provides funding for the tribe, which delivers health care to tribal members and makes its own decisions about what services to provide.
. . .
Unfortunately, Indians are not getting healthier under the federal system. In 2007, rates of infant mortality among Native Americans across the country were 1.4 times higher than non-Hispanic whites and rates of heart disease were 1.2 times higher. HIV/AIDS rates were 30% higher, and rates of liver cancer and inflammatory bowel disease were two times higher. Diabetes-related death rates were four times higher. On average, life expectancy is four years shorter for Native Americans than the population as a whole.
. . .
Personal stories from people within the system reveal the human side of these statistics. In 2005, Ta’Shon Rain Little Light, a 5-year-old member of the Crow tribe who loved to dress in traditional clothes, stopped eating and complained that her stomach hurt. When her mother took her to the IHS clinic in south central Montana, doctors dismissed her pain as depression. They didn’t perform the tests that might have revealed the terminal cancer that was discovered several months later when Ta’Shon was flown to a children’s hospital in Denver. “Maybe it would have been treatable” had the cancer been discovered sooner, her great-aunt Ada White told the Associated Press.
. . .
The Chippewa Cree Band runs its own hospital and has hired a registered dietician who has gotten the local grocery store to implement a shelf-labeling system to improve consumer nutritional information. They’ve also built a Wellness Center with a gym, track, basketball court, and pool. These are small steps that won’t immediately eliminate heart disease or diabetes. But they move in the direction of local control and better health.
At a time when Americans are debating whether to give the government in Washington more control over their health care, some of the nation’s first inhabitants are moving in the opposite direction.

For the full commentary, see:
TERRY ANDERSON. “OPINION: CROSS COUNTRY; Native Americans and the Public Option; After decades of government-run care, some Indians are finally saying enough.” Wall Street Journal (Sat., August 29, 2009): A11.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version is dated Fri., Aug.28, 2009)

Property Rights Would Allow American Indians to Prosper

(p. A19) President Barack Obama courted the Indian vote. During the campaign, he visited Montana’s Crow Reservation last May and was adopted into the tribe under the Crow name “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.” There he said, “Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans,” and vowed to improve their economic opportunities, health care and education.

Two vital steps in this direction are to strengthen property rights and the rule of law on reservations. Virtually every study of international development shows that both of these are crucial to prosperity. Indian country is no different. The effect of insecure property rights is evident on a drive through any western reservation. When you see 160 acres overgrazed and a house unfit for occupancy, you can be sure the title to the land is held by the federal government bureaucracy.
. . .

My own research, published in the Journal of Law and Economics, shows that for tribes with state jurisdiction, per capita income grew 20% faster between 1969 and 1999 than for their counterparts under tribal court jurisdiction. All Indians are less likely than whites to get home loans, but the likelihood of a loan rejection falls by 50% on reservations under state jurisdiction.
. . .

Mr. Obama’s rallying cry was “change,” and that is exactly what he needs to bring about in Indian policy. The first Americans deserve to be freed from the bureaucratic shackles that have made them victims, and allowed to establish property rights and legal systems that can make them victors.

For the full commentary, see:
TERRY L. ANDERSON. “OPINION; Native Americans Need the Rule of Law.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., MARCH 16, 2009): A19.
(Note: ellipses in original.)

How Democratic Presidents Save Us

Andrew Jackson was the first in a long line of populist Democratic presidents:

(p. 24) He relished the roles of protector and savior. Just after dusk on a cold March day in 1791, when Jackson was practicing law on the circuit around Jonesborough, Tennessee, he and his friend John Overton were traveling with a small group through dangerous territory. Reaching the banks of the Emory River in the mountains, the lawyers spotted a potentially hostile Indian party. “The light of their fires showed that they were numerous,” Overton recalled to Henry Lee, and “that they were painted and equipped for war.” Under Jackson’s leadership (Overton credited him with a “saving spirit and elastic mind”), the travelers scrambled into the hills on horseback, riding roughly parallel to the river–which they had to cross to make it home. Pursued by the Indians, Jackson, Overton, and two others pressed on through the night, coming to a place where the water looked smooth enough to allow a hastily constructed raft and the horses to make it to the other side. Jackson look charge of the raft piled high with saddles and clothes. Overton would follow with the horses.

There was immediate trouble. The waters were not as smooth as they had appeared; a powerful undercurrent swept the boat–and Jackson– downstream, toward a steep waterfall. “Overton and his companion instantly cried out and implored Jackson to pull back,” Lee wrote. But he either not being so sensible of the danger, or being unwilling to yield to it, (p. 25) continued to push vigorously forward.” Jackson struggled with his oars; disaster was at hand. He and the saddles could he lost, and the Indians were still on their trail. “Finding himself just on the brink of the awful precipice,” Lee recounted, Jackson extended his oar to Overton, who “laid hold of it and pulled the raft ashore, just as it was entering the suck of the torrent.” Catching their breath on the bank of the river, Overton and Jackson looked at each other.

“You were within an ace, Sir, of being dashed to pieces,” Overton told him. Jackson waved him off, replying, “A miss is as good as a mile; it only shows how close I can graze danger. But we have no time to lose–follow me and I’ll save you yet.” They eluded the Indians, arriving home exhausted but safe.

Source:
Meacham, Jon. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. New York: Random House, 2008.
(Note: the semi-colons in the above passage were hard to distinguish, in the online version, from colons. I judged them to be semi-colons from context, but I could be wrong.)