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Archive for Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Tribal lands

December 9, 2003

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To the editor:

The recent story on the four sovereign tribes' desire to have lands put into trust quicker highlights the need for education to the non-Native populace.

When the Kaw and Osage tribal lands were diminished to create new areas for the Great Lakes tribes, new reservations were created. The reservation areas that came into existence with the Shawnee Reserve in 1825 began to be shrunk legally and illegally, beginning with the Manypenny treaties in 1854-55, and ending with numerous tribes being removed to Indian territory. The process wasn't called allotment to begin with, but that's what it was. The Manypenny treaties allotted away 13.5 million of the 15 million acres of land that tribes had held in trust.

When the Dawes Allotment Act was passed in 1887 to further diminish Native holdings, Kansas Native leaders such as Mokohoko (Sac and Fox), Kewahkouk (Kickapoo) and Wahquahboshkuk (Prairie Band Potawatomi) fought this act. Wahquahboshkuk went to jail fighting this act. Between 1887 and 1934, 90 million acres of Indian-held land was allotted away throughout this country. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 slowed this loss. The aftermath was non-Native people living within reservation boundaries, beyond tribal jurisdiction.

Now, with Native people gaining more roles in self-determination, the tribes simply want to reacquire lands that were lost to allotment so that community members can have adequate reservation housing areas and viable natural resource solutions. This is a federal question and the state of Kansas should be respectful as a good neighbor to the four sovereign tribes.

Mike Ford,

Lawrence

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