by the El Reportero’s wire services
Albuquerque, NM — In a historic settlement, Native American tribes have been awarded nearly a billion dollars. The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that a settlement was reached with 645 Native American Tribes for the sum of $940 million dollars.
The settlement stems from a 1990 lawsuit, which claimed the U.S. government failed to pay its portion of federal contracts for housing, education, law enforcement and healthcare, as well as a number of other support programs.
When the federal government failed to meet its obligations, people on the tribal lands were decimated by suffering, according to tribal leaders.
“The federal government’s conduct was not just cruel and wrong, it was illegal,” said Governor Val Panteah Sr. of the Zuni Pueblo.
Tribal leaders believe the massive payout to compensate the tribes will assist in combating major issues faced on reservations such as alcoholism, rampant unemployment and almost non-existent healthcare system.
The settlement is meant to compensate the tribal contractors and tribes that were underpaid from the years of 1994 to 2013. The failure of the US government to meet financial obligations to the tribes is one of the historic means used to keep Native Americans disenfranchised.
“I’m very satisfied with this settlement, but in other areas of those treaty obligations we need to work like we did here,” President John Yellowbird Steele of the Oglala Sioux tribe told ABC 7.
There is hope among tribal and government leaders that this agreement could lay the foundation for future healing. There is cautious optimism, with hopes that broken treaty obligations can be eventually remedied.
The settlement must be approved by a federal judge, with the tribes scheduled to begin to receive payments within the next six to 10 months.
Pope Might Face Controversy at U.S. Congress
His Holiness Francis was expected to face disagreements from US conservatives when at press time, he speaks at the plenary of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24, becoming the first Roman Pontiff to address the U.S. Congress, reported the media today.The online The Hill, which considers the Pope’s presence at U.S. Congress a historical event, says that his address might cause fire from intransigent conservatives.
In that sense, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) announced a week ago that he will boycott the speech due to the expected statements over climate change.
The Hill refers to remarks from various conservative spokespeople, even some say that Supreme Pontiff acts like a “left-wing politician.”
The report adds that the Holy Father is not liberal in many of the social topics, such as abortion and gay marriage, which mostly concern the ultra right wing, but his positions over immigration, Cuba-Iran relations, and the income inequality are in disagreements with Republicans.
That is potentially an important political defeat for the Republican Party,Tim Byrnes, professor at the University of Colgate, told the daily.
Recent surveys show that Francis is very popular among the US population, and according to a CNN-ORC poll released this week, 63 percent are in favor of him, compared to the 74 percent among Catholics.
Meanwhile, democrats will take advantage of the Pope’s visit to the Congress for stressing their legislative priorities, including their positions over the climate change, migration reform, and incomes inequality. Prensa Latina contributed to this news report.