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Fact Sheet: Loss of values in political parties, media, and the money markets

In a Feb. 15, 2010 Alternet article entitled “The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup: Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class,” David DeGraw states that some of the richest elite have robbed us all and committed a huge crime against humanity. He states that altogether Americans lost $5 trillion from their pensions and savings during this economic crisis, plus $13 trillion in home values. He added that workers aged 55-60—people who have diligently saved for 20 to 30 years—lost 25 percent of their 401Ks.

 

Prime examples of the rampant corruption were the multitude of Ponzi schemes that imploded during the past year on Wall Street, in Antigua, and in many other places, including my home state of Minnesota. In recent months, news articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Nov. 3 and 11, Dec. 16) detailed the $3.5 billion Petters Ponzi scheme. The articles cited hedge funds that Petters benefited to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. One Petters associate, Larry Reynolds, made millions while laundering billions for the Petters corporations. Reynolds had previous convictions for swindling and drug trafficking, with ties to the New England mob. He enjoyed opulent homes in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Other Petters associates had ties with local tribal gaming interests and strip clubs with links to Las Vegas, the Gambino crime family, and others charged with racketeering in Florida.

In an Associated Press story about Wall Street (San Diego Union Tribune, January 9, 2010), Edward Shook of Raleigh, N.C., who lost a lot of money in the stock market, said he is leaving the stock market “to the crooks that run it.” He sold his stocks and bought bonds. We share his feelings—after years of studying how computer-driven black boxes are used to manipulate and control stock prices by naked short-selling, with little threat from the Justice Department or other over-sight agencies that are supposed to protect us citizens. Meanwhile, brokerage houses and investment banks are able to manipulate markets up and down, making money in both directions, while honest citizens are fleeced as their stock holdings are criminally manipulated.

During a congressional hearing on CNBC, we even heard a person from the investment-banking fraternity admit the possibility that his firm might have been shorting a stock in one office while buying it long in another. This is a strong admission of guilt that should be prosecuted. We told our broker that such people should be jailed. He replied, “Building the necessary jail cells would bankrupt the country!”

Mr. President, my 2009 letter and Fact Sheet, enclosed here for your convenience, explained how our country has been slipping into lawless corruption and deceit since President Nixon changed federal Indian policy. We asked you whether the changes you planned for the past year were changes for the good, or changes for more evil, greed, and corruption. We hoped for good change. But are now very nervous about the “change” path you are taking. We wonder how it could ever fit into the dreams we share with millions of American citizens who believe in a level economic playing field and the equal protection of our laws.

Mr. President, we also pray that your dreams are in tune with those of Martin Luther King, Abe Lincoln, and Chief Joseph. They dreamed of truly equal rights—not the shams of the politically correct multi-cultural crowd that enslaves, oppresses, and exploits our society’s poorest members with calls for the democracy of meaningless rhetoric about social justice and human rights.

According to President John Kennedy’s biographer and historian, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.—in his book The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society—the soft money elite have damaged our educational system. Their funding of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and “multiculturalism” agendas after the death of Martin Luther King have promoted a rainbow coalition which supports red apartheid. Their weapons include the “racist” smear to discredit and silence anyone who questions their agenda. Red apartheid—the separatism of modern tribal sovereignty—violates the 14th amendment to our constitution that guarantees all citizens the equal protection of our laws. Using the word “racist” to attack someone asking legitimate questions violates God’s law against bearing “false witness” against one’s neighbor.

Mr. President, you sound sincere when you speak. Your sincerity inspires hope and sincerity in others. We sincerely hope to persuade you that your “dream” is flawed if you are truly serious about strengthening tribal sovereignty. Please change that pledge. We hope to help guide you, to get in tune with the 70% of United States citizens that a Feb. 12 CNN poll says are upset and have lost faith in the system. After 30 years of public service aimed at saving sport-fishing tourism economies in Minnesota, we understand the challenges you face in fighting that top one-percent greedy soft-money crowd. They refuse to play by the golden rule and will cheat, lie, and even use organized crime to win.

The new native “circle”—the biggest Ponzi scheme of all

Mr. President, our Indian friends are pawns in an evil game. The modern tribal sovereignty that impacts the rights of millions of non-Indian U. S. citizens and their state and local governments also takes away the rights of tribal members. In Indian culture, we hear a lot about the “circle,” which once referred to a group of tribal elders sitting around a campfire discussing and debating solutions to different issues affecting the tribe. But those old tribal ways have been stolen by a powerful partnership, a corrupt new circle: large corporations, the gambling and Wall Street mobs, the federal and state agencies they corrupt and the politicians they fund. This soft-money crowd that helps corporate America steal our land and resources is a gigantic circle of power that corrupts our nation’s federal and state capitols.

Who are the top lobbying spenders in Washington, D.C.? According to a Mercury News editorial published Feb. 12, 2010, it’s Indian gambling. Not surprisingly, the National Education Association (NEA) was the nation’s biggest political lobbyist in 2007 and 2008, dishing out $56.3 million. A new study reveals that the next three top donors were Indian tribes with gambling interests. Six of the top-ten largest donors to political causes nationwide were Indian tribes who together spent $160 million. Fifteen years ago, Indian casinos took in just $100 million a year, mostly at bingo halls. Today Indian casinos tally $25 billion a year.

Our good friend Bill Lawrence was founder and longtime publisher-editor of the weekly Native American Press/Ojibwe News at Bemidji, Minn. He was a Chippewa from the Red Lake band. On Feb. 1, 2008, he devoted two full pages of his newspaper to an editorial entitled, “Mille Lacs Members, Rise Up! Rescue The Band From Its Hijackers!” Bill wrote, “Mille Lacs voters must take back their band from the powerful, all-controlling, and unaccountable elitists who have hijacked it. For 20 years now, Mille Lacs leadership has put the band in conflict with everyone from state and local governments to the Band’s good neighbors at Mille Lacs Lake. There’s been way too much emphasis on Washington, D.C., on the National Congress of American Indians, and on the Indian Industry in Minnesota and beyond. As we’ve reported many times, tribal governments work behind a veil of secrecy, unaccountable to their own members who are kept away from decision-making. Always be wary of their unbelievable pull among non-native politicians and media, which unfortunately help insulate the tribal leaders.”

About three years ago Bill Lawrence also began a strong focus on the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Indian country. He gave prominence to the experiences and writings of Jody Allen Crowe, a reservation teacher friend who had been witnessing the devastation firsthand. Crowe studied and documented how many Indian children displayed fetal alcohol syndrome, and how they were easily manipulated into violent behavior. Bill encouraged Jody to do more in-depth study, a result being Jody’s insightful book, The Fatal Link: the Connection between School Shooters and the Brain Damage from Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol. A copy is enclosed to help you in your quest for positive change.

The Fatal Link really helped inform us about a society-wide problem that costs our country billions of dollars in health and educational costs, to say nothing about the thousands of wasted lives and broken hearts resulting from misguided alcohol use by uneducated would-be parents. Jody Allen Crowe took a large step last spring, leaving the teaching profession and starting an educational foundation called Healthy Brains For Children. He is very dedicated—on a noble mission to better the world. That’s real change for the good!

Treaty rights, tribal gaming equals economic and social disaster for local citizens and economies

Former United States Senator David Durenberger, former Vikings Coach Bud Grant, myself (Howard Hanson), and thousands of Minnesotans that believed in the American dream, can only say, “We warned you.” A recent headline in the Dec. 2, 2010 Mille Lacs Messenger announced that Mille Lacs county had the highest unemployment in the state. For a while, it was as high as 15%. We were all supporters of an organization called Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM) which raised $2 million by selling $5 raffle tickets—to protect the interests of private landowners in the Mille Lacs Chippewa’s 1837 treaty rights fishing-hunting lawsuit in the 1990s. We saw the threats to resources and economies that could result from commercial gill nets in more Minnesota lakes.

Although our legal team used what should have been a winning defense—an Indian Claims Commission (ICC) final payment to the tribe—Sandra Day O’Conner’s 5-4 majority opinion totally ignored the landowners defense, or even that they were a full party to the case. Chief Justice Rehnquist called the ruling “legerdemain,” After all, in the 1855 Treaty the Mille Lacs Band relinquished “all rights, title, and interest of whatsoever nature” in the 1837 Treaty territory ceded to the United States. As the Chief Justice asked, “Doesn’t all mean all?”

As the gill nets appeared, resorts disappeared. A year ago, a resorter friend of mine drove around lake Mille Lacs and counted over 40 local sports-fishing tourism destinations that had gone broke—just as we said they would. Just like they did at Leech Lake, Cass Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, and across the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota. If the reason here or there isn’t gill nets, it’s because of the related “save the wilderness crowd” and tribal casinos. Thousands and thousands of jobs are lost because of the greed of our richest citizens who create all these clever marketing schemes.

One criterion used by the high court to legitimize commercial gill-net fishing was the Indians’ standard of living. The same argument was behind the growth of tribal casinos. The casinos were pitched to the public as roads to reaching two main goals: provide gainful employment, thereby removing Indians from dependence on public assistance; and reduce tribal dependence on state and federal funding.

It was never publicly stated that casino revenue would serve as a major source of funding for tribal donations to political parties, political candidates, and political organizations—thereby creating the powerful Indian Industry and tribal lobby. In turn, political leaders receiving the money have been dramatically increasing state and federal funding to the tribes. In June 2005, a Mille Lacs Band newsletter reported the band had a budget of $141,583,850 for 3,665 people. That equates to $38,631 per member or $154,525 for a family of four. Most of this is federal and state taxpayer money. The newsletter states these figures do not include all the profit from the Band’s two large casinos. A lot of that profit is kept by the Tribal Corporate Commission to buy land and businesses, stocks, and other investments; and to fund lobbyists and political contributions. The exact amounts are a “corporate secret.” Under modern sovereignty, tribal governments are largely unaccountable—to their own people and to the wider citizenry.

A Mille Lac tribal elder named Mushkooub recently told me he gets $800 per month as his share of their casino profits. He is upset because the people that control the Indian Industry do not seem to care about the health and welfare of the Indian people that live on reservations. Tribal Self-determination policies have led to rampant corruption by tribal leaders, with involvement of mobs, drug dealers, and gangs. The Mille Lacs Band’s leader, Marge Anderson, finally admitted in her recent State of the Band address that they have a huge problem with drugs, gangs, and alcohol. In earlier speeches, she minimized those problems, even though they were exploding. We have been writing warnings for many years.

The costs to the local citizens outside the Mille Lacs Band is staggering. Besides the costs of a weakened sports-fishing tourism economy, the tribes are buying land and taking it off the tax rolls by putting it into untaxable federal trust lands—even though the Carcieri vs. Interior ruling affirms our position that they can’t do that. Then there are the social costs of the increases in substance abuse and crime. Alan Gunsbury, a resorter friend in neighboring Cass County, reports their county is 10-percent tribal by population, but their drug and alcohol problems use up 80 percent of the social budget and over 60 percent of the county’s law enforcement budget. Destructive behaviors caused by drugs and alcohol claim too much of that money.

Back in the early 1980’s when we were fighting commercial gillnetting we soon realized that mother nature could not supply all the fish needed for the supermarkets, restaurants and sports-fishing tourism. We started promoting aquaculture and fish farming. Please read last years letter again and start considering an investment in this much needed new industry.

Mr. President, today’s tribal Sovereignty, treaty rights, tribal gaming, and the related economic and social horrors do not make for a pleasant dream for the United States of America. We need real change. The dream you should envision is the one embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment. The hope was to end slavery and give every U. S. citizen the equal protections of our laws. That should be our dream now.

I hope this fact sheet finds a home in your heart. During the coming year, we’ll be watching and listening for real change. Instead of more of the same—implied in your embrace of strengthening separate-and-unequal destructive tribal sovereignty—we need a revolution that can right wrongs related to Indian country. End the corruption. Bring on accountability. Transform the system. Too many people, Indian and non-Indian, are being hurt.

 

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