« Ind. Gov't. - "Can a Venture Capitalist Jumpstart Illinois?" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Transfer list for week ending October 23, 2015 »

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Miami Nation of Indiana trying to win back recognition as a tribe"

Andrea Neal of the Indiana Policy Review has this fascinating story, part of Indiana's 200-year history, that begins:

In 1897, an assistant attorney general made a legal error that cost the Miami Nation of Indiana their federal recognition as a tribe. They’ve been fighting ever since to win it back.

“Our people are as upset now as they were 100 years ago,” declares Chief Brian Buchanan.

It’s a story that began not long after Indiana achieved statehood when settlers came flooding into the state with their eyes on land already occupied by Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami and other Indian nations. The government’s formal policy was removal. Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and a succession of treaties, Indiana’s Native Americans were pushed westward to present-day Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Miami fought to stay in Indiana during the 19th century and were split in two when the U.S. government forcibly removed about half of them in 1846. Under an 1840 treaty, the Miami ceded virtually all of their commonly held land in exchange for $550,000 in annuity payments.

Through this treaty and earlier ones, several individual Miami were awarded land, and they and their families were exempted from removal, forming the nucleus of the Miami Nation of Indiana. Those sent to Kansas eventually relocated to Oklahoma and today are called the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, one of 566 federally recognized tribes.

For decades the Miami of Indiana were treated by the government like their western Miami counterparts, exempt from federal taxes, free to hunt and fish without a license and eligible to attend federal Indian schools.

Immediately following removal, Miami lands in Indiana were illegally taxed. Hoping to recover past payments, they appealed to the Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal matters through its Bureau of Indian Affairs. The case was referred to Assistant Attorney General Willis Van Devanter, a Hoosier who would go on to become a Supreme Court justice.

As part of his decision on the tax case, Van Devanter concluded that the Indiana Miami were “no longer a tribe” under a law called the Dawes Act and were U.S. citizens, thus ineligible for tribal recognition – a decision the government later admitted was based on a flawed application of the law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 26, 2015 11:59 AM
Posted to Indiana Government