1862: the Dakota War

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the U.S. government should do more to help today’s Native American tribes solve problems like high unemployment, poverty, and alcoholism. Because 310 Indian reservations are where many of America’s poorest 1% live this explains the poverty of the reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the long distances to jobs and the undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent in these Indian Reservations. The problems of the reservations go well beyond residents not having the right encouragements to upgrade their surroundings. With some exceptions, the casinos aren’t much benefiting to the several dozen reservations that have built them. Companies and investors are often reluctant to do business on reservations from signing up fast food franchisees to lending to casino projects because getting contracts enforced under tribal law can be tough. Indian nations can be small and issues don’t come up that often, so commercial codes aren’t well-developed and guides are lacking. And Indian defendants have a home court advantage. Many reservations are rich in natural resources, but there’s no big rush to develop them, given the corrupted issue of property rights and the risk of making a big investment without a secure legal footing. Why not try to help out? The vast majority of land on reservations is held mutually. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits, one reason for the great quantity of mobile homes on reservations. This makes it hard for Native Americans to establish credit and borrow money to improve their homes because they can’t use the land as collateral and investing in something you don’t own makes little sense. To make more sense of this if everyone owns the land, no one does. So the result is poor...
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