November 03, 2007

18-year-olds get $45,000 each

$45K windfall is a lesson for Ojibwe teensFor the last 13 years, members of the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe have been receiving a share of the profits from their tribal casino. For adults, that adds up to about $5,000 per year. But for minors, that money is stored in a bank until they turn 18. When they hit that age, the Fond du Lac youth suddenly find themselves with tens of thousands of dollars.How does the typical situation unfold?The average per-capita income is less than $15,000. Many families live paycheck to paycheck.

Kris Stiffarm says that's how his family gets by. When he turned 18 earlier in the month, he cashed his $45,000 check and went shopping.

"It took me two weeks until I was back down to zero." Kris admits. "I ran into a lot of stuff I wanted to buy."

A lot of stuff for Kris means two trucks, three ATVs, a speedboat, a trailer and a Playstation 3.

It's not fair to say Kris spent all his money.

"Oh yeah, I put [aside] like $500, for my baby," Kris says.
Comment:  The Fond du Lac distribution plan seems kind of dumb, if you ask me. How about this instead? An amount equivalent to the minimum wage when you turn 18. Another $xx thousand for graduating college. Another $xx thousand for holding a steady job. Another $xx thousand for learning the Ojibwe language and culture. Another $xx thousand for volunteering to help needy tribal members. Etc.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
All well-sounding advice, IF NATIVES WERE PART AND PARCEL TO, OR UNDER THE CONTROL OF, MAINSTREAM EUROMAN CULTURE, or somehow subject to the whims of EuroMen who otherwise have no say or vested interests in such people. Per capita distributions exactly are those, percentile money shares given by tribes to each tribal member older than whatever tribal majority age was established, or held for minors in escrow accounts (interest-bearing) until the individual reaches 18 or 21. But no presumptive restrictions are placed on the monies by the tribes because the funds are tax-free and 'earmarking' them would represent governmental intrusion on the sovereignty of the Native individual and possibly even a danger to the tax-free status of the funds wholly or in part.
Consider, Rob, that you happen (whether in reality, you do or do not) to play the California lottery and you hit a fair-sized amount that, after taxes, THEN is dictated by the state as to how you spend or otherwise make use of various components and amounts, dictates that indeed would have the force of law, no matter how you felt about the intrusion. How fair or even 'laissez-faire' would that be? It quite is that case that some people are light-speed fast to dictate how other people should live, especially when such dictates do not affect themselves in the least...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

Am I not my brother's keeper? We all have a vested interest in what happens to other people.

As one example, if someone becomes sick or drunk or poor, he may require the resources of the mainstream welfare system. Those are your and my tax dollars at work, so we have every reason and right to care.

The tribe already imposes one restriction by limiting the per-cap payments to adults. I think some tribes also require recipients to have a high-school or college education.

The key question is whether tribes can't impose other restrictions, or haven't chosen to. I don't know, but I'm guessing it's the latter.

Legally speaking, there's no such thing as the "sovereignty of the Native individual," so that's no impediment. But I concede there may be financial or legal obstacles I'm not aware of.

Anyway, I was just suggesting, not dictating. I suggest the Chippewas think about whether their present plan is achieving the desired effect.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
When any White Man speaks in this country, it ALWAYS is a dictate. And there is no 'present plan' anent per capita amounts, as most tribes simply process the payments and then pay them out, period. That may or may not hold true in 'tribes' that really are not Natives at all. The various true tribes place age restrictions on per capita distributions because they observed such age restrictions in cultures that PREDATE Columbus. Past those, there were few other restrictions beyond who could marry whom and who could kill whom. And certainly individual sovereignty is observed WITHIN tribal cultures, something about which neither you nor the US of A has any say whatsoever. Plus, please know that Natives are NOT your brothers, whether you dictate so or no. And you remind writerfella of the one about the only chimpanzee who believed in evolution. When asked why by the other chimps, he said, "Am I not my keeper's brother?"
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I guess "dictate" is another word you don't know. I don't dictate much of anything to anybody.

You seem to think "my brother's keeper" literally refers to a sibling. Maybe an excerpt from Barack Obama's keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention will help you understand the concept:

"If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

"If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

"If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

"It is that fundamental belief--it is that fundamental belief--I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper--that makes this country work."

As I said, I take responsibility for my figurative brothers and sisters by paying my taxes and monitoring how they're spent. If you don't like it, you can opt out of the federal taxation system. Move to another country, perhaps. As long as you're here, you're part of my responsibilities as a taxpaying American citizen.

In other words, you don't decide what I feel responsible for. I decide that. Too bad if you don't like it.

Rob said...

As I said, "individual sovereignty" isn't a legal concept. Since legal concepts are what we're discussing, your comment is irrelevant.

You're also wrong about what IGRA permits in revenue allocation plans. Tribes don't have to give per-capita payments to every member. They can limit them to specific subgroups--presumably including the ones I listed.

Here's the relevant part of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:

Title 25: Indians

§ 290.14 Who can share in a per capita payment?

(a) You must establish your own criteria for determining whether all members or identified groups of members are eligible for per capita payments.

(b) If the tribal revenue allocation plan calls for distributing per capita payments to an identified group of members rather than to all members, you must justify limiting this payment to the identified group of members. You must make sure that:

(1) The distinction between members eligible to receive payments and members ineligible to receive payments is reasonable and not arbitrary;

(2) The distinction does not discriminate or otherwise violate the Indian Civil Rights Act; and

(3) The justification complies with applicable tribal law.