Congress Debates Plan to Make Amends for Indian Land Swindle

Monday, 05 Mar 2012 01:56 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Congress is debating a proposal aimed at making right a land swindle the U.S. government pulled on northern Minnesota Indian tribes 123 years ago, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The newspaper reported Monday that six Chippewa tribes would receive a $28 million payment under the plan being debated to make up for some 650,000 acres of reservation essentially stolen from them in 1889.

The Star Tribune said the proposed settlement stems from the 1889 Nelson Allotment Act, under which some reservation land was given to Indians but other acreage was ceded to the government and then sold to settlers or timber companies. The sale proceeds were supposed to go into a trust fund for the Chippewa, but in many cases, the newspaper noted, “that didn’t happen.”

Over the years, courts have awarded a number of settlements involving the Nelson Act; the Red Lake Tribe cut its own deal with the government for $27 million in the late 1990s. Now, according to the Star Tribune, five of the six tribes just want the issue brought to a conclusion.

“We talked over the years about different formulas, but finally five of the six reservations said: ‘Let’s get this thing done; it’s carrying on a long time,’ ” Norman Deschampe, chairman of both the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Grand Portage Band, told the newspaper.



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