Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Brownback seeks apology to American Indians

Critic characterizes gesture as ‘empty’ because it fails to take legal responsibility

April 21, 2005


U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback still thinks the federal government owes American Indians an apology for all the broken treaties, failed policies and cultural destruction.

But not all American Indians are in a mood to forgive and forget.

The Kansas Republican on Wednesday announced that he had reintroduced a resolution that, if adopted, would serve as an official apology for 200 years of wrongdoing.

He called the resolution "a step toward healing the wounds that have divided us for so long -- a potential foundation for a new era of positive relations between tribal governments and the federal government."

But Michael Yellow Bird, director of Kansas University's Center for Indigenous Nations Studies, called the apology "empty," saying it steers clear of taking legal responsibility or adequately funding American Indian programs.

"The language is very guarded," Yellow Bird said. "It's a very controlled apology."

Brownback's efforts would be better spent, he said, fighting for American Indian education and health care programs.

"The United States gives Israel $10 million a day," Yellow Bird said. "It gives Haskell (Indian Nations University) $10 million a year."

He added, "I am sure that Senator Brownback means well and that he's had some kind of epiphany -- that's good, I don't doubt his sincerity. But this is like stealing someone's car, their house, their home, and then saying 'I'm sorry, but you're not going to get any of it back.'"

A similar resolution introduced last year by Brownback and Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a Northern Cheyenne, stalled, prompting its reintroduction.

The 2005 resolution is co-sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Brownback stressed the resolution "does not dismiss the (valor) of our American soldiers who bravely fought for their families in wars between the United States and a number of the Indian tribes. Nor does this resolution cast all the blame for the various battles on one side or another."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.