Too many chiefs?
September 22, 2005
By Julie Kay Smithson [email protected]
London, Ohio
It was with delight that I read Sam Lewin's September 20, 2005, gem titled "Department of Interior releases status report on Indian trust accounts - Officials cite progress, critics fire back," published by the Native American Times.
Sam "gets it!" He understands the way language deception is used by those with control agendas -- be they government agencies, non-governmental organizations or the like -- to squelch dissent and outcry.
If a person doesn't realize he's being robbed, he won't struggle, and he won't report the theft -- because he is unaware that there has been one.
If taxpaying Americans can be made to believe that this obscene amount -- "estimated at more than $12 billion" -- is actually being used to conduct an honest audit and accounting of funds that the accountant is likely guilty of "misplacing," and is truly being spent to this end ... well, I've some oceanfront property in Arizona for sale, cheap. This is theft: from the nation's treasury and from tribal members. The uneducated (or undereducated) and the poor have historically been targets for pillage and other unsavory fates. I've seen the Navajo lands of the Four Corners region, replete with monumental splendor but rife with the collateral damage of having been made into a "kept" people.
Government has historically been no more able to control its appetite than a kid turned loose, unsupervised, in a candy store. And we wonder why the kid is now sick?
Gale Norton knows that she fronts a Medusa with many heads, and if she were to reduce the number of heads -- or even the number of hairs (budget dollars) on any of those heads, she'd be putting the feathers of her own nest at risk. She's mastered an alluring chant that she never misses an opportunity to pitch to the public, hoping that no one will look closely at the "4 Cs" -- "Communication, consultation, and cooperation -- all in the service of conservation." She's so proud of this global language deception ploy that it's part of the official DOI "welcome" page:
The 4 Cs are no less language deception than the 28-page DOI "Historical Accounting" report: Both rely on the public's information overload and the majority of Americans who will only look at the glossy and eye catching graphics, never noticing that there is little, if any, real "meat and potatoes" information about how that "estimated at more than $12 billion" is being spent.
Who among us realistically believes that the tribes will benefit from this feeding frenzy? Other than a scant few whose careers are built, like P.T. Barnum, on "fooling some of the people all of the time," our gut feelings tell us that this is probably high-level, high stakes "smoke and mirrors" -- and our tax dollars continue to flee like leaves before a Front Range chinook wind. In government, it is time to ask: Are there too many chiefs?
Julie is a property rights researcher who champions responsible resource providers. Her website is The BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) button is DOI