Should American Indians receive reparations for historical hardships?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is, of course, purely a matter of personal opinion.  There is no way to answer it objectively.  My own view is that we do owe a moral debt to the Native Americans (as to the descendants of slaves), but that it would be hard to know how to give reparations in a way that is fair and meaningful.

My first issue would be that of deciding who deserves reparations.  Do only full-blooded Indians deserve reparations?  How would we determine that?  If a person had one-quarter Native American blood and ¾ white, would they deserve reparations given that, by blood, they are more white than Indian?  What about nations that have huge wealth from casinos?  Do they deserve reparations?

My second issue is with the amount of reparations.  Is there any logical way to give a meaningful amount of reparations?  If we were really trying to compensate them for the loss of their land and cultures, the price (with interest and such) would be astronomical.  If we give them, say $20,000 each, it is barely meaningful.  It would be as if someone took my new car and gave me $200 in “reparations.”

We do owe Native Americans something.  Our entire country has been based on taking their land and using it as our own.  On average, they have many social and economic problems now that can be attributed in part to the fact that we did this.  However, reparations are not really the answer in my mind.  It would make more sense to find ways to stimulate economic activity on their reservations (for those who live on reservations) so that we could help them make meaningful changes to their fortunes.