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It's time to get our responsibility back

The issue of trust responsibility can be split into two perspectives, the past and the future.

In the past, the irresponsibility of those governmental agencies which keep track of our monies only revealed to Native Americans that they can't be trusted. But what do you expect when you have a third party taking care of your monies and resources?

Failure to account for the millions of our dollars lost by trust "irresponsibility" is a crime, but it also shows us that a pattern exists. We, Native peoples, throughout history, have been consistently taken advantage of by greedy officials within the BIA, Department of Interior and our own tribal governments. Trust irresponsibility is no different than broken promises.

The solution is simple but it is the red tape that usually gets those criminals out of prosecution for obvious white-collar criminal activity involving our monies. "He who makes the red tape makes the rules."

We must look toward the future, at this moment in time, to ensure that our unborn generations have something left. If anyone should have trust responsibility, it should be the tribes. We should be the caretakers of our own lands and the minerals underneath them. This should be our future goal. We need to get our monies back.

It's obvious that those who were placed in this trust position didn't adhere to the honesty required of them. If they committed a crime, they should pay for it. But usually when a white official steals from, us he or she is slapped on the wrist.

We have been stereotyped as politically unworthy people by the government for far too long and because of this we have consistently been ignored when issues such as this arise that concern us. The time has come to demand sovereign equality as individual nations and also to become individually independent as sovereign nations.

This means taking up responsibility for our own land, resources and monies. The future of trust responsibility should be placed in the hands of the tribes which own the lands. For far too many years our resources have been overgrazed, over mined, overtaken by crooked third parties who took advantage of our ancestors in the past and the puppet tribal officials today.

This has always been our historical issue with the United States. We need to have our lands given back to us along with the responsibility to maintain and govern these lands and, if we fail at it, at least it's our failure and not theirs.

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We cannot claim to be sovereign if we allow ourselves to even side with the decisions that other sovereign nations make for us. We have become too co-dependent on others to solve our own problems. This is an insult to all of us, it makes us look like welfare nations.

We shouldn't be seen as wards of this U.S. government anymore. We should be respected as sovereign tribal nations with representatives in the U.S. House and Senate. We should control all monies that are made off the land we own today.

The future of trust responsibility should be that all responsibility from now on is in our hands and the millions of dollars that are unaccounted for up to now should be seen as a criminal act in the U.S. courts and prosecuted as such.

We didn't lose the IIM money they did. It's not our fault that the Department of Interior and the BIA can't run their offices, but it is our responsibility to work at total sovereign status as tribal nations.

We need to break our dependence on others. We must de-program our tribal leaders from believing that we can't take of our own lands and monies made off of the land. Our people have been brainwashed to believe they are children under the Great White Father, who need him to guide them. But this father has never allowed us to grow up and take of ourselves, but still treat us like children.

There is a third option to trust management and this is giving it back to the Native people to manage themselves. The issue with unaccounted for monies should still be a responsibility of the U.S. government. It's their people who lost it. They should continue to file contempt charges on those who violate the law of the United States and any other charges that are appropriate.

The laws of nature say that only the strongest survive. If we ever are in the position to fully control our nations and their resources, lands and monies then we must end corruption within our ranks. Corruption is our weakness as living tribes, a weakness that will destroy any Native race.

We cannot survive as long as we continue to misuse our tribal funds. If we want to live up to the philosophy of sovereignty, then we must grow up and act like adult nations.

In my opinion our tribes need to take the Department of Interior and the BIA to court and demand that all individual tribes control all their respective lands and their revenues made on them, on every reservation in this country. If they can't take care of it, let us do it, it's ours anyway.

Our people need to find their inner pride and confidence to overcome the co-dependent behavior that controls even our tribal governments and our officials. We need to stand on our own two feet and survive by our own hand like our ancestors did long ago.