That quote is from Chief James Allan, Coeur d’Alene tribal chairman, at the announcement of the settlement last week to resolve 41 long-standing disputes with Indian tribal governments over the federal mismanagement of trust funds and resources.
Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, said the settlements will amount to a combined total of $1.023 billion to the 41 tribes for past federal mismanagement.
Beyond money, the settlements also set forth a framework for promoting tribal sovereignty and improving nation-to-nation federal-tribal relations, while trying to avoid future litigation through improved communication, Moreno said...
Charlie Galbraith, an associate director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, called the development “a significant step forward in the resolution of tribal trust cases pending against the United States,” in a blog post on the White House website.
“Many of the cases include claims by the tribes that go back over 100 years,” Galbraith said, adding that the deal represented “good-faith cooperation and hard work of the administration and 41 American Indian tribes in working out fair and honorable resolutions of the tribes’ claims.”...
The announcement was made at a White House ceremony, with Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and other senior members of the Obama administration joining tribal leaders in attendance.
“May we walk together toward a brighter future, built on trust, and not acrimony,” said Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor General of the Interior Department, at the event. “And when I say the word trust, I don’t mean the legal definition of that word, I mean the dictionary’s definition of that word—assured reliance on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of a person or thing….”
Tompkins is a Navajo Nation citizen, and she personally helped sort out the legal parameters of the deals.
These are the kinds of things that make me so proud of President Obama and his administration that I get teary just thinking about it. When words like trust, integrity, veracity, justice and friendship are used by Native Americans to describe their hopes for a future relationship with the U.S. Government - the long-awaited healing of this very old ugly wound just might be underway.