What a tragedy! ("A tribe divided," Dec. 1) Months ago when the news of the long-awaited Yurok settlement was announced, I called the only tribe member I know to urge those in the group with some financial "smarts" to start working on making this wonderful event continue in perpetuity for the betterment of her people. Alas, Saturday's paper describes two choices, both poor, that tribal members will choose between. Surely the advice of a professional financial planner would have brought different results.
It is hard to imagine the wrongs for which these funds are meant to atone were perpetrated only on this generation, so it is difficult for me to understand why current tribe members feel they are entitled to all the funds. Plans to use the money for the betterment of future generations as well as current tribal members would certainly make more sense.
Assuming the average size of Yurok families is the same as the national average of four, each family under the 50/50 plan would receive less than $50,000. That sounds like a lot of money, especially for people who have lived in poverty for generations. In reality, even used very carefully it would be gone in a matter of 24-36 months. Most families would probably buy a truck and find they could not support fuel or maintenance after a short time. Others might put the money into housing. Again, without the understanding of the continuing cost for operation and maintenance. But saddest of all, with the percentage of drug and alcohol dependent tribe members, neither of those purchases would be made by the majority of recipients. That windfall would be gone to support addiction almost immediately. This squandering of funds that might enable many to climb out of the never-ending poverty they have suffered, is one reason many taxpayers fight monetary reparations, since the money helps very few and draws many deeper into the pit of poverty and/or addiction.
If 100 percent of the fund was securely invested, 10 percent of the interest earned added to the fund each year with the remainder used something like 75 percent to be paid per capita to tribal members forever. The state of Alaska is lucky enough to have such an arrangement for disbursement of the oil revenues of that state. What a blessing!
It is sad to see another great opportunity for a whole community wasted.