Since inception, this nation’s relationship with the native American Indians has been a difficult and distinctive pairing. The establishment of indian reservations scattered throughout the United States has no equal in the history of the country. During this time, there have been instances when courts were ignored, crimes were committed against entire communities, and wars were fought. It is important to understand the present conditions within such reservations, and equally important to know why the time has come to reintegrate these reservations into the United States. This would conclude an awkward, biased arrangement that initially centered on acquisition of resources, but now serves to create divisions, poverty, corruption, and other undesirable attributes. The purpose of this paper will be to examine the facts behind reservations, articulate the primary reasons why they should be abolished, and draw conclusions that support the premise that American Indians should be fully integrated into society.
According to an article by Horowitz, the current system has roots dating back to the 17th century. Presently, there are 565 federally recognized tribes representing nearly two million people living on approximately 55 million surface acres of land. Other notable and relevant facts focus on economic considerations, such as the number of class action lawsuits tied to discrimination charges that easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars per suit. Corruption tied to reservations appears to be rampant, notably in the indian casino gaming industry that brought in $26.5 billion in revenues in 2009. An article by Miller cites the lack of laws and regulations on most reservations as a key reason why economies have not developed, leaving rampant poverty and a dearth of small businesses as conditions on reservations. By some estimates, $0.80 of every dollar earned on a reservation is spend outside of the reservation due to lack of business development.
Primary reasons for elimination of reservations
The elimination of this antiquated concept would provide many significant benefits. According to the article by Horowitz, corruption is caused in the current system because tribal leaders enjoy enormous power and influence based on how reservations are regulated by the U.S. federal government. There are a multitude of cases showing this, where embezzling funds and resources from reservations amounts into millions of dollars. Another consideration is the expense associated with maintaining reservations. According to Horowitz, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs alone has a $2.7 billion dollar budget, which could be eliminated in its entirety if there were no reservations to regulate.
Two other complimentary reasons to eliminate reservations tie to the need to encourage economic development on present day reservations to reduce poverty, unemployment and stagnation. According to the Miller article, there needs to be consistency in laws and regulations in order for businesses to establish themselves on reservations and be successful. The problem now is that many reservations lack full protections of property rights, fair competition, and ensuring law and order in a way that makes businesses comfortable. By eliminating reservations, U.S. government law would apply, which removes inconsistencies of law. This structure would also assist in establishing an entrepreneurial spirit among Native Americans, enabling them to open small businesses and provide employment opportunities.
The network of American Indian reservations is antiquated and well past its period of usefulness. The current system causes corruption, poverty, unemployment, and stagnation on the reservations. It also creates additional expense in the form of bureaucracy and litigation for the United States. If these reservations were eliminated, laws that apply in the rest of the United States would also apply there. This would be effective at reducing the corruption, and the consistency of law would encourage economic development when businesses would suddenly be free of concerns relating to lack of indian laws and regulations. An additional benefit is the elimination of class action lawsuits against the United States, because some discrimination charges could no longer apply if indians were privy to the same rights and laws as the rest of us. The time has come to eliminate indian reservations and unite these territories with the rest of the country.
- Horowitz, Carl. “No Reservations: the Case for Dismantling the Indian Bureaucracy.” Townhall Magazine. 4 Feb. 2011. Web. 3 Apr. 2013
- Miller, Robert. “Creating Economic Development on Indian Reservations.” PERC Report. 30.2 (2012). n. pag. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.