To the editor:
The statement about America's past treatment of Native Americans is a thoughtful gesture by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, but it's only a gesture.
Will this gesture be recalled when Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs funding appropriations go before Congress? Will these gestures be recalled when sacred sites are threatened by roadways and natural resource extraction? Will this gesture be recalled when Brownback has to follow the auspices of Article One, Section Eight, Part Three, of the U.S. Constitution?
That constitutional clause states that tribes and U.S. states are equal dependent sovereigns to the U.S. Congress and a centralized federal government. Tribal sovereignty has to be respected better than it has been in the past. U.S. states have to realize that they are also self-governing entities and that they can't always look to the more responsible sovereign nations to bail them out.
Lastly, the impact of this gesture should be measured by how Sen. Brownback comes to terms with the Cobell v. Norton case involving a settlement in excess of $250 billion due to the U.S. government's mismanagement of tribal trust funds. Then, and only then, can Sen. Brownback's gesture be looked at with merit.