Feb 23, 2014

Scatter shots; Indian Country

Somebody loved those four shot-dead Paiutes up in the high desert of backwater California, 200 miles or more from the nearest Starbucks. The accused, a bully, probably also had her admirers, perhaps even as many friends as tattoos.

The universe of this chaos is small, 35 members of a federally recognized tribe in and around Alturas and Cedarville, California. Together they own a 26-acre reservation, a "rancheria" in local lingo.

Ms. Cherie Lash Rhoades was chief of the tribe until it fired her as the FBI investigated missing tribal funds, about $50,000.

Money. If it isn't sex, it is money, isn't it? Cherchez la femme or her man; that petering out, cherchez l'argent.

L'argent here is $1.1 million in one year, 2012. At its source, the figure is much higher, allowing for normal government overhead. First you -- and I mean you -- must earn it; the IRS must extract it from you; the money must be trundled from Treasury to the Department of the Interior to its Bureau of Indian Affairs and finally to whom ever handles the net tribal take --  the $1.1 million -- for 35 souls. All along the twisty route beady little eyes dart about as greedy little fingers dip and dip and dip.

Of course you just fingered your little calculator and said "wow!" That amounts to $31,428.57 per Paiute. Assuming they family-up at roughly the national all-races average, you multiply by 3-plus for something like $95,000-plus per family. They could afford a Starbucks and professional aromatherapists.


This is not totally fair. The AP reports that about half the money goes for roads.

Or maybe it is. The little tribe also gets a few dollars from the Indian-casino industry, a federally protected activity. There's income from cheap (because untaxed) smokes. One assumes that Jerry Brown's California also contributes, assuaging its guilt for what we did en route to our Manifest Destiny.


Guilt is justified to one degree or another, but as time passes it should moderate.*  We White Eyes murdered our last Redskins in job-lot quantities more than 124 years ago, on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. We killed about 150, many or most with Hotchkiss guns, a weapon notorious for non-discrimination among braves, little old grandmas, and babes-in-arms.

But over that five or six generations, amends have been made, or attempted, however misguided and inept.  The results are mixed, at best, and on average probably well illustrated by the grief among the 31 surviving Paiutes of  Alturas, a grief rooted in the outcome of condeming a race to permanent wardship.

I wonder what would happen if we decided to end it over next two generations with what once was fashionably called "tough love."

"Here is the school. It's free. It is your gateway to the pride of self-sufficiency. Don't fuck it up."


Humility requires a qualification of everything above. Maybe the killer was just crazy as Hell and would have run amok in any society in which she found herself.

And finally, it might be suggested that she would have created less tragedy had she been confronted with counterforce the second she displayed one of her two pistols.  Unfortunately it happened in California where practical counterforce is reckoned to be calling the cleanup service, available through 911.


*If not, I am personally entitled to vast sums from Her Majesty's exchequer in recompense for my family's Annaly estates, stolen at gunpoint by English thugs  c. 1400-1700.


Rob said...

History has a long record of one people displacing another, it seems that is what history is all about.

In most cases the displaced people (the losers) either left (to try and displace someone else?), or all died, or were enslaved or they were assimilated into the conqueror's culture.
If they were enslaved in time they were assimilated into the culture.

Something different happened here, those who came before us found a new path. They cut a deal.
Today's courts are enforcing that deal... How would you end it?

Anonymous said...

End it? Oh, yes--that little item in trust law called the rule against perpetuities. It works like this: Lives in being, plus twenty-one years. Originated in Merry Olde, and it worked pretty well to end tailed estates and such. JAGSC

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

It's really nice to have a barrister friend who continues to tolerate you even as you make crude jokes about his profession. Thanks, Jagsc. I was only vaguely aware of the principle and totally ignorant of its formality in British/American jurisprudence.

Rob: A germane question. Perhaps I should have added a paragraph or two to the effect that we have decided to calculate costs and settle up, allowing for both the value of the land we stole and the our -- errr -- "leasehold improvements." By "we" I mean to include the Indian people, though not necessarily their present tribal governments.

Rob said...

Buy out the treaties? Why not!

If corporations can have civil rights I'm sure we've come far enough that the courts could be 'persuaded' to allow us to buy out the treaties.

I wonder what would happen to the successful "Indian Casinos"?