Native American reservations are among the poorest communities in the United States and they shouldn’t be. They are just routinely screwed over by the US government.
Historically, tribes have had little or no control over their own lands and the government has repeatedly mismanaged their assets. Through corruption and exploitation, reservations have been fleeced for hundreds of billions of dollars and only receive a small fraction in compensation.
Royalties, set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, have consistently undervalued what tribes are owed. A federal commission in 1977 concluded that the agreements the government negotiated on behalf of Native Americans were “among the poorest agreements ever made.” Thirty years later, a lawsuit alleged that the government was still mismanaging billions of dollars in assets on behalf of tribes. The case settled for $3.4 billion, just a fraction of what was ‘lost’ by the government.