By Victor Omondi


It feels great when you know the government is taking care of your best interest. That means you don’t have to worry about who will manage your assets or run affairs on your behalf. You make decisions freely and get them approved within no time. But of course, the approval comes with certain regulations.

But does it work for the native Americans? Definitely, not.

While the federal government is responsible for managing and running the affairs of the natives, it hasn’t lived up to this responsibility. As a result, Native Americans lead the poorest lives in the United States.

So how does the federal government keep the Natives in poverty?

Native Lands Owned And Manged By The Government

When Chief justice Marshall established the federal trust doctrine in 1831, he simply set the Native Americans on the path of poverty. The doctrine assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. While the doctrine continues up to date, Indians haven’t benefited from it.

Since Indians have no ownership rights to their homes and land, they’re not allowed to mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans. This makes it hard for natives to start a business in Indian country.

Federal Agencies Control Economic Development

Any development project on Indian land must be authorized and approved by the federal government. The approval process is dam slow and burdensome, and so, it’s discouraging to even start it. To get a permit for energy development, one has to go through at least four federal agencies and 49 steps. It shouldn’t surprise you if it takes years before a single energy development on Indian lands is approved.

Complex Legal Framework That Hinders Economic Growth

Reservations have complicated the legal framework which hinders economic growth. It requires a lot of effort and time to navigate through these legal systems, making growth and development a mystery on Indian lands.

One such complexity is the federal inheritance law that requires many Indian lands to be passed in equal shares to multiple heirs. Several generations later, the lands become fractionated to a point that more than a hundred people are owning a parcel of land. Since managing such lands isn’t possible, a bigger portion of the land remains unattended to.

Energy Regulations Hinders Tribes From Developing Resources

Some regulations are making it hard for tribes to capitalize on naturally available resources. The leader of Crow Tribe says the war on coal is meant to oppress their children and families. While coal is a major opportunity for economic growth and development for the tribe, strict regulations prevent them from capitalizing on the naturally available resource. Even exporting coal to Asia is becoming a problem.

Federal Government Continuously Mismanaged Indian Assets

History records that tribes had little to no control over their energy resources. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten any better. In a recent class-action suit, It’s purported that the federal government mismanaged Indian assets worth billions of dollars. In 2009, the case settled at least $3.4 billion, which is way below what the Federal government lost.