Our View: Reservation corruption must end


October 8, 2013

The Associated Press has completed a detailed look at corruption on Indian reservations. The findings appeared in Monday‘s Havre Daily News.

The gist of the findings: Corruption is rampant on reservations, but little is done about it by federal officials.

This is either because of lack of concern, a shortage of resources or some misplaced feeling that the way to repay Native American for years of mistreatment is to let reservation hot shots walk away with millions in booty while the remainder of the populace is living in poverty and misery.

Right off, we can think of about 50 ways the federal government could help reservation residents live a better life. They range from improving health care, education, recreation, housing, roads and programs that help preserve cultural preservation.

Not high on our list of ways to improve the life of Native Americans: Letting tin horn dictators on reservations line their pockets by pilfering federal funds that were aimed at helping the destitute.

While the AP story was full of incidents in which federal officials did nothing, there are some hopeful signs to report.

Montana has some of the most remote reservations and traditionally some of the most corrupt.

But U.S. Attorney for Montana Michael W. Cotter is having none of that.

He has promised to fight the sleaze on the the state’s seven reservations.

At Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, nine people have already been indicted on various charges for alleged thievery, and from all indications, the probe at Rocky Boy is going full-speed-ahead. Similar investigations are taking place at other reservations around the state, most notably at the Blackfeet Reservation at Browning.

But just as federal officials have been strangely silent about the stench on reservations so, sadly, have the good people on the reservations. Many devoted public officials who got into office only because they wanted only to help their neighbors through tough times have remained quiet about the corruption surrounding them. Perhaps they were jaded by the darkness of it all.

The good news is that it seems to be coming to an end. Last week a group, with support on all seven Montana reservations, was formed in Havre with the intention of calling attention to the bungling and looting on reservations.

Participants at the meeting included past and present tribal officials, county commissioners, tribal elders and a good number of young Natives who were on hand for the meeting, sharing their stories about problems on their reservations. They vowed to take their fight to people on and off the reservations.

Ken Blatt St. Marks, who has won two elections and yet cannot be sworn in as tribal chair at Rocky Boy, said that his tax money and the taxes paid by off-reservation residents are being squandered, and politicians and bureaucrats should demand answers.

The Associated Press report on the situation painted a rather bleak picture. Indeed, there is much to be concerned about. But there are rays of sunshine coming through. Some federal officials want to do something about the problem, and most important, people on reservations are demanding action.


Reader Comments

sicofitall writes:

Rocky Boy just needs to change the constitution. make term limits, Make it a requirement the candidates know the laws currently in use. elect qualified court personnel, i.e. someone who can follow the codes, and apply the law. separation of powers. Elect the Judicial Commission on qualifications and standards. limit the business committee actions involvement in program affairs. Just limit them to passing laws and hold them accountable. Have better enforcement of the law. Hire enforcements.

Grumpy writes:

OMG, pretty hard not to write about these corruption stories on Rockboy Rez, when we all have money invested in those projects and it is down right being stolen by the poor native American. HDN would be writting about other news if you foxes guarding the hen house wouldn't be giving them a new story every time the sun went behind a cloud. Get a life OMG or is it some of your relatives too?

omg writes:

And why do some of you say the people voted in ken blatt? Yes some voted him in but he didn't get my vote and if they have another election, I will not give him my vote. I have no respect for a man who gives no respect for others. And as far as LSM not looking the other guys in the eye when she sees them but I don't think they care if she looks at them lol what a threat! Sounded like a kid. So did the other one when she said he can buy 10 escalades if he wanted. Wow, grow up, no one is jealous.

omg writes:

Hooray for havre daily news for being so gracious to put something NEGATIVE onthe front page AGAIN! Never put positive things for the public eye to read BUT when its negative, FRONT page news. To heck with you HDN, you racist sons of guns. Your paper stinks! If anyone is filthy, its your shabby little border town. I'm so disgusted in the stuff they print, always trying to run a native American down. You sure bring your shabby paper all the way to our stench smelling rez for .75 cents. Haha

hatetheelite8 writes:

Rocky Boy Montana is like a third world country! Where else in the United States that during a democratic election process, a person can be voted in TWICE by the people and the others in position of power refuse to seat that person elected by the PEOPLE! Ricky Morsette needs to get it, he LOST the election, she should be a man and step aside and let Ken in as chairman! After all it is the people who voted Ken in, the people OBVIOUSLY don't want Ricky as chairman, W..T..F..?

vrosehalawaya writes:

hey, cheer up! the way i look at it is... it's always darkest right before the dawn!these are exciting times!someone will be filing at cs&kt very soon and of course the Voice of the People group already has.this mind numbing corruption which has gone on since day one and before has had it's day and now it's done. all the true leaders and people of heart it's time to shake off that apathy cloak and show the world what u got it's a matter of life and death for our children. its all about big oil.

nevermind writes:

I sit back and watch what goes on around me. My Grandfather was a white man; and my father who is Native, PAID TAXES like him. The BC is treating us as members not being able to think for ourselves. The BC is a THREAT to my kids' future. The MEN that I, and my family voted for, need to come to my home and explain why Ken is a threat. We voted for Ken twice. This BC BS must end! GOD WILLING!

dailynews writes:

First off Ken B. is not the answer. He is just another guy that pays for votes. He took a pay cut? Do you know where that pay went? Ask the huge families that voted for him. Secondly, the pay for the council is ridiculous. Since it is a business committee then maybe we should require a business degree or some type of degree at least. But, we are so used to just whining we don't get off our butts and require change. Instead of complaining get up and be vocal and not just on facebook.

Watcheseagle writes:

Was the time and place of the meeting of tribal officials referenced in this article made public and if it was where was it advertised? I along with many others would have liked to attend. Also, who represented Fort Belknap??

fedup writes:

Rocky Boy is hurting for some honest and sincere leadership that is not afraid to speak up against those who want to dominate the government. Drugs are taking over on the Reservation and nobody is getting busted with the current leadership while former drug dealers fighter over Rocky Boys Government. What the hell has this place come to?

GLS writes:

Some of the reasons why the people do not voice their opinions are because they know if they tick off the higher ups, they lose their jobs. Also, many are related to the ones in office and know they depend on keeping on their good sides to keep their jobs. This kind of thing has been happening for years, and so it becomes part of the cycle of abuse and despair. ~Scratch my back and I will scratch yours.~ Indians learned this from watching their ~white leaders~ teach them the ropes in life.

MyView writes:

My View: I often walk outside and rage against the wind blowing, but I'm just about as likely to get the wind to stop as anyone is to clean up Reservation Corruption.

dyanesis writes:

the fed should walk away and the fed should place serious conditions on any funds coming into this community, almost to the point where they cant get any. its not the leadership, electoral politics has proven the best people almost never get elected anywhere in the world. its the people who constantly expect someone to come in and 'save' them. now they want the fed to 'save' them. like that's going to do any good, they'll just elect another batch anyways.


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