In a tweet on December 27, President Donald Trump wrote: “Thank YOU Indian Country for being such an IMPORTANT part of the American story! I recently signed 3 bills to support tribal sovereignty…”
The laws that Trump passed include compensation to the Spokane tribe, funding for Native language programs, and recognition of the Little Shell Tribe.
Compensation To The Spokane Tribe
Many years ago, the Grand Coulee Dam flooded 21,000 acres of Spokane lands. In 1940, the Colville – the other tribe whose land was flooded – were given $63,000 in compensation; in 1994, they were given another $53 million, and since then yearly payments from $14 million to $22 million. The Spokane were given only $4,700 for the flooding of 40 miles of their land.
The new bill orders the Bonneville Power Administration to pay the Spokane tribe $6 million per year for ten years and then $8 million each year afterward.
Funding For Native Languages
The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act became law in 2006 but expired in 2012 and was not renewed. The new law will grant $13 million to smaller groups of Native American students who want to study Native languages, starting next year and ending in 2024.
Little Shell Tribe Gets Recognition
A law recently recognized Little Shell Chippewa Tribe from Montana. Up until now, the tribe did not have official recognition from the government. Tribe members felt like outcasts over the years, not having land of their own and not being acknowledged by other tribes that have reservations. Although the law gives them only about one square mile of land for a reservation, it also gives access to programs such as Indian Health Services.