Ignored? Are you kidding me? They should be so lucky. The government has made most Indian tribes wards of the state. Government manages their land, provides their health care, and pays for housing and child care. Twenty different departments and agencies have special "native American" programs. The result? Indians have the highest poverty rate, nearly 25 percent, and the lowest life expectancy of any group in America. Sixty-six percent are born to single mothers.
Nevertheless, Indian activists want more government "help."
It is intuitive to assume that, when people struggle, government "help" is the answer. The opposite is true. American groups who are helped the most, do the worst.
Consider the Lumbees of Robeson County, N.C. -- a tribe not recognized as sovereign by the government and therefore ineligible for most of the "help" given other tribes. The Lumbees do much better than those recognized tribes.
Lumbees own their homes and succeed in business. They include real estate developer Jim Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings, and Jack Lowery, who helped start the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Lumbees started the first Indian-owned bank, which now has 12 branches.
The Lumbees' wealth is not from casino money.
"We don't have any casinos. We have 12 banks," says Ben Chavis, another successful Lumbee businessman. He also points out that Robeson County looks different from most Indian reservations.
"There's mansions. They look like English manors. I can take you to one neighborhood where my people are from and show you nicer homes than the whole Sioux reservation."
Despite this success, professional "victims" activists want Congress to make the Lumbees dependent -- like other tribes. U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., has introduced the Lumbee Recognition Act, which would give the Lumbees the same "help" other tribes get -- about $80 million a year. Some members of the tribe support the bill.
Of course they do. People like to freeload.
Lawyer Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the U.S. Interior Department's director of Indian land trusts, say the Lumbees ought to get federal recognition.
"The Lumbees have been neglected and left out of the system, and have been petitioning for 100 years. ... They're entitled, by the way."
People like Homer will never get it. Lumbees do well because they've divorced themselves from government handouts. Washington's neglect was a godsend.
Some Lumbees don't want the handout.