MOST OFTEN ASKED QUESTION IS:
DON’T “NATIVES AMERICANS” GET A GOVERNMENT CHECK FOR BEING INDIAN?
THE ANSWER IS ~ NO….
No enrolled tribal member has ever or is currently receiving any payments from the government, unless the government has collected funds on their Tribe or Nations behalf. In those instances they are not giving us their funds, but returning OURS. This could be compared to a minor child receiving payment for an acting/modeling job or other contract. The child, being a minor, does not receive the check directly. Instead, the check is allocated to the parents who then returns the funds to the child. The parent receives the funds on behalf of the child. In the U.S. Tribal relationship this may occur in the form of mineral rights, water rights, land royalties etc. The funds/payments for these rights or royalties are collected by the U.S. Government, which in turn distributes the funds to the Tribe or Nation who maintained the rights to the resources of the land.
“Truth be told, enrolled Tribal members do not receive these types of royalties as individuals, the funds are distributed to the Tribes/Nations who’s Tribal Councils determine how these funds will be distributed. Some enrolled tribal members do receive per-capita payments. These payments are no different than stock holders receiving dividends from their stocks. When tribal businesses (casino, timber, etc.) do well, per capita payments go up. When tribal businesses do poor, per-capita payments go down. Again, less than 5% of tribes distribute per-capita payments. That leaves 95% of American Indians who do not get any type of payment from the federal government or tribal government. The rumor that we receive money is perpetuated by people who just don’t know any better. Other rumors that I’d like to set straight are that yes, we pay taxes and no, we do not go to college for free.”
Anonymous Enrolled Tribal Member
Statement Endorsed by Chief Arvol Lookinghorse