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Model Legislation for African American Reparations

Model Legislation for African American Reparations

Indian Claims Act of 1946

The Indian Claims Act of 1946 established a Claims Commission to address historical grievances and compensate Native Americans for their lost territories during American colonization. The focus of the Claims Commission was to distribute money – not land – in the form of US Dollars to Native Americans and descendants of Native Americans adversely affected by colonization. The Claims Commission performed its function over a 60-year period, during which time approximately $1.3 Billion were distributed.

The Indian Claims Act of 1946 survived various constitutional and legal challenges and could potentially serve as the primary model legislation for which slavery reparations could build upon. If Native Americans could be lawfully and ethically compensated with direct money transfers for prior grievances associated with colonization, then there is no substantial reason African Americans could not also be lawfully and ethically compensated with direct money transfers for prior grievances associated with slavery.

Indian Financing Act of 1974/Indian Loan Guaranty and Insurance Fund/Indian Revolving Loan Fund/Indian Business Development Program

The Indian Financing Act of 1974 was passed in September 1974. The Act led to the formation of programs focusing on low-interest loans, loan guarantees for private loans, and grants to establish Native American economic initiatives. The Act further established the Indian Business Development program to stimulate and increase Native American entrepreneurship and employment by providing equity capital and interest subsidies to reduce the cost of borrowing from private lenders. Similar follow on programs included the Indian Loan and Guaranty and Insurance Fund, the Indian Revolving Loan Fund, and the Indian Business Development Program – each of which successfully served the same purpose in distributing billions of dollars of low interest and insured loans and grants to Native Americans and descendants of Native Americans adversely affected by colonization.

Again, the Indian Financing Act of 1974 and related programs and funds each survived various constitutional and legal challenges and could serve as additional model legislation supporting forms of slavery reparations other than direct cash payments – such as federally subsidized and insured student loans for African American youth, federally subsidized and insured housing loans for African Americans seeking home ownership, and federally subsidized and insured business loans for African American entrepreneurs. If such programs were afforded to Native Americans for past grievances, then the same should be true for African Americans.

Education Programs through the Bureau of Indian Education/Establishment of Indian Health Service

The Bureau of Indian Education was created by federal legislation for the specific purpose of serving more than 48,000 indigenous Native Americans through scholarships and education grants. It successfully operates today with the federal executive branch to meet the needs of college-bound Native Americans. The Bureau collaborates with colleges and universities on areas such as loan resources, tuition waivers, regional scholarships, and admissions generally. These programs could serve as a model to expand African American attendance at institutions of higher education in the United States by simultaneously addressing both affordability and admissions issues.

The Indian Health Service was founded in 1954 and falls under the Department of Health and Human Services. It was approved by Congress to pre-empt existing health care options to cater to the specific welfare of Native Americans and descendants of Native Americans adversely affected by colonization. The Indian Health Service is the primary federal healthcare advocate for Native Americans which – by the end of 2018 – had afforded assistance to at least 2.2 million of the possible 3.7 million qualifying Native Americans. It has operated extensively in 36 states through the establishment of 59 health centers, 26 hospitals, and 32 health stations across the country.

We again note that if programs directed specifically to address the educational and health needs of Native Americans adversely affected by colonization, then there is no reason why such programs could or should not be implemented to address the educational and health care needs of African Americans adversely affected by slavery.