Target: United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.
Goal: Applaud the U.S. government for agreeing to pay a record settlement to the Navajo tribe, helping make up for decades of mismanagement of reservation funds
Not only has the United States government overseen toxic uranium mines and nuclear waste storage on Navajo tribal land, but for decades it also failed to fairly compensate tribal members. A lawsuit in limbo for eight years between the U.S. and Navajo Nation was recently settled out of court resulting in the largest single settlement ever awarded to an individual tribe. Members of the tribe will have a say on how the more than $500 million is spent on projects such as education and much-needed infrastructure improvements.
Some of the more remote areas in Navajo Nation (encompassing portions of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado) lack basic amenities such as electricity and running water. High school dropout rates remain high. Money from uranium mining (a practice now banned by the tribe) helped bring some out of poverty; yet according to the lawsuit for sixty long years the U.S. government failed to properly manage the resources it operated for the tribe. Deals with energy and mining companies weren’t always handled appropriately, alleged the suit. Tribal members weren’t always paid what they were promised, and the government failed to invest funds properly to ensure a fair return. This improper conduct is all the more upsetting given the fact that Navajo lands have been, and continue to be, poisoned by the mining industry along with the air and water.
“There was a lot of government misconduct for a very long time, but the Obama administration and Justice Department stepped up and did the right thing in this case,” said attorney Andrew L. Sandler, who helped represent the tribe in the case. Applaud the U.S. for helping right decades of wrong-doing committed against the Navajo people, and for this settlement which will help improve the lives of tribal members.
Dear Attorney General Holder,
I am writing to thank you and the Obama administration for agreeing to settle with the Navajo Nation regarding decades of government mishandling of tribal resources and funds. The U.S. government has historically and repeatedly mistreated the Navajo and other Native American peoples, forcing them from their homes, brainwashing their children and poisoning their traditional lands. This settlement cannot right every wrong, but it does demonstrate a clear accountability on the part of the U.S. government.
One can hope that this settlement also marks the end of government mismanagement of tribal resources. Thank you for being a part of this historic decision, and for helping resolve this long-standing grievance in a way that will provide much-needed resources to the Navajo people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ken Hammond via Agricultural Research Service