The Native American Apology Resolution is back again. Re introduced by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, the Resolution offers an apology from the United States government to American Indians for its long history of official depredations and ill conceived policies. Last year, the Resolution was successfully added to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Unfortunately the Act, which would fund essential health services to American Indians, languished during the last congressional session and is still awaiting a vote.
The current Native American Apology Resolution, according to Sen. Brownback, “does not authorize or serve as a settlement of any kind against the United States, nor will it resolve the many challenges still facing Native peoples.”
Indians are still waiting for a resolution of the Cobell class action lawsuit brought over 12 years ago that seeks United States fulfillment of its trust responsibilities to Indian peoples. The mismanagement of Indian land and resource trusts dates back to 1887 according to the Cobell lawsuit.
Sen. Brownback says in a press release, “It is my hope that as we move forward as a country, this Apology might help bring healing and reconciliation between the Federal Government and the Native Peoples of this great land.”
A similar apology for Canada’s role in forcing Native people into residential schools resulted in a $1.9 billion in compensation for victims.
It would be difficult to imagine the United States conceiving of a similar gesture towards its tribal citizens.
Reactions by tribes to the Apology Resolution have been understandably mixed.
Continued injustices in the form of under funding for treaty guaranteed programming would make the apology awful thin.
Read more about the resolution.