January 15, 2010

Banker:  Young Indians receive $50K

Correction:  American Indian Teens Don’t Get $50K When They Turn 18

By Lizz CarrollEarlier this week, DiversityInc received complaints from some American Indian readers because of our video interview with Margot Copeland, executive vice president and director, Corporate Diversity and Philanthropy at KeyBank, No. 50 on The 2009 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list. In the video, discussing the bank’s efforts at financial literacy for traditionally under-represented communities, she stated: "We have initiatives around the Native American community. Many of the young people receive $50,000 when they turn 18 because of the treaty signed in the 1800s."

DiversityInc received seven comments from readers who said this had to be an error. We have researched Copeland’s statement, and spoken with her, and are issuing a correction. And we apologize for not checking the facts before airing the video.

For the record, Copeland did not intend to mislead anyone or further any stereotypes.

"My humble apologies to all if I misspoke,” she said. “I attended a conference in San Diego in 2006, which offered an off-site visit to a nearby tribal community. One of the speakers, who was a tribal leader, did use the $50,000 figure during his presentation, but I certainly should have verified the same before repeating the comment. I should have not left the impression that this practice was broadly applied."
Comment:  The article goes on to explain that some casino tribes establish trust funds for minors--holding their gaming income for them until they turn 18. The San Diego tribe Copeland was talking about was probably Viejas or Sycuan.

So, one tribe...or "many of the young people." Money from gaming...or money from a 200-year-old treaty. That the well-educated Copeland misheard and misstated the facts shows the pervasiveness of the myth that Indians are unfairly rich from government handouts.

For more on the subject, see The Essential Facts About Indians Today.

No comments: