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Myths About Indians

Indians are on the “government dole"

This myth generates from several sources. First, many people object to the “special” services and programs the federal government provides to Indian tribes and their citizens. This relates to myth number 5 above. As stated above and elsewhere on this web site, these services are due to the federal government’s trust responsibility to Indian tribes based on treaties and agreements made with them over the years in exchange for land and resources granted to the federal government. Payments and servies provided to Indians are for lands and rights sold to the federal government by Indian governments. They are not gratuities or donations. Second, it is not uncommon for individual Indians and tribes to cash or bank their “government checks.” The sources of these monies are trust funds that come from one of the following:
• The tribes may have received monetary payments from the federal government for lands purchased from them. These funds are "trust property" that is held in the United States treasury with federal law usually requiring a minimal interest payment to the tribes on such funds. All of these payments are first made to the federal government which, in turn, writes a “government check.”
• Tribes may also receive income from renting or leasing the land for farming and ranching purposes. The tribes may also lease the land for mineral development and receive bonus payments for signing the lease, annual rentals and royalty payments if minerals are discovered. The person renting or leasing the Indian property makes payments to the federal government as trustee. The trustee then pays the Indian landowner.
• Tribes may receive payments from the U.S. government under lawsuits to settle claims for breach of trust duties and obligations. Between 1944 and 1978 such claims were handled by the Indian Claims Commission. Now they are handled by the U.S. Claims Court.
• Tribal members may receive income from lease or sale of trust properties that are also considered trust funds.
• If you overpaid your federal income tax and received a government check to repay your money, you are on the same kind of “government dole” as Indians.

Kirke Kickingbird

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