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The Department of the Interior

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    There are numerous differences between "the other guy" and Joe Biden, but one of the starkest contrasts is the quality of the people that are nominated for important positions.

    Nearly ALL of the people that Trump nominated for various positions were NOT qualified for the positions they were nominated for (Betsy DeVos is just one example) while Joe Biden is picking the absolute best people - and one example of that is Deb Haaland, who will be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior.

    Heather's letter of March 15 gives a very detailed look at the history of the Department of the Interior, which I would recommend skimming through.

    One common theme for much of the Department's history is that it has often been mis-managed. We're all familiar with the Tea Pot Dome scandal, but what is not well known is the connection between the FBI and the oil rush in Oklahoma in the 1920's.

    The Osage Indian murders were a series of murders of Osage Native Americans in Osage County, Oklahoma, during the 1910s–1930s; newspapers described the increasing number of unsolved murders as the Reign of Terror, lasting from 1921 to 1926. The estimated Osage death toll is in the hundreds, though reported numbers are much less and investigated deaths far fewer. Some sources report that sixty or more wealthy, full-blood Osage Native Americans were killed from 1918 to 1931.] However, newer investigations indicate that many more suspicious deaths during this time could have potentially been misreported or covered up murders, including the deaths of heirs to future fortune.

    The murders appear to have been committed by people intent on taking over the great wealth of the Osage, whose land was producing valuable oil and who each had headrights that earned lucrative annual royalties. Investigation by law enforcement, including the Bureau of Investigation (BOI; the preceding agency to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI) also revealed extensive corruption among local officials involved in the Osage guardian program. Most of the murders were never prosecuted, but some men were convicted and sentenced.

    The FBI was started in 1935, but its predecessor, the Bureau of Investigation was started in 1908 - and is was heavily involved in the investigation of the Osage Indians murders.

    The United States Congress changed the law to prohibit non-Osage from inheriting headrights from Osage with half or more Native American ancestry. The U.S. government continued to manage the leases and royalties from oil-producing lands, and the tribe became concerned about these assets. In 2000, the Osage Nation filed a suit against the Department of the Interior, alleging that it had not adequately managed the assets and paid people the royalties they were due. The suit was settled in 2011 for $380 million and commitments to improve program management

    The tale of the Osage Indian murders has been portrayed as early as 1934, as a radio series. A more recent book (which I have read) is Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Gran, which was published in 2017.

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    Although Deb Haaland's appointment to lead the Department of the Interior was historic, another appointment of note for Native Americans was confirmed last week.

    Chuck F, Sams III just got confirmed to lead the National Park Service. He is the first native American to lead the park service in its entire 100+ year history.