This myth generates from several sources. First,
many people object to the “special” services and programs the federal
government provides to Indian tribes and their citizens. This relates
to myth number 5 above. As stated above and elsewhere on this web site,
these services are due to the federal government’s trust responsibility
to Indian tribes based on treaties and agreements made with them over
the years in exchange for land and resources granted to the federal
government. Payments and servies provided to Indians are for lands and
rights sold to the federal government by Indian governments. They are
not gratuities or donations. Second, it is not uncommon for individual
Indians and tribes to cash or bank their “government checks.” The
sources of these monies are trust funds that come from one of the
• The tribes may have received monetary payments from the federal
government for lands purchased from them. These funds are "trust
property" that is held in the United States treasury with federal law
usually requiring a minimal interest payment to the tribes on such
funds. All of these payments are first made to the federal government
which, in turn, writes a “government check.”
• Tribes may also receive income from renting or leasing the land for
farming and ranching purposes. The tribes may also lease the land for
mineral development and receive bonus payments for signing the lease,
annual rentals and royalty payments if minerals are discovered. The
person renting or leasing the Indian property makes payments to the
federal government as trustee. The trustee then pays the Indian
• Tribes may receive payments from the U.S. government under lawsuits
to settle claims for breach of trust duties and obligations. Between
1944 and 1978 such claims were handled by the Indian Claims Commission.
Now they are handled by the U.S. Claims Court.
• Tribal members may receive income from lease or sale of trust properties that are also considered trust funds.
• If you overpaid your federal income tax and received a government
check to repay your money, you are on the same kind of “government
dole” as Indians.