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Key Fact

Competent and Capable
Imagine a country where the federal government dictates that people are incompetent and incapable until the government deems them to be competent and capable. Those words sound out of place in the United States, and yet that is the way the federal government describes American Indians under laws from 1887 and 1906. Those laws state that until they’re deemed competent and capable, Native Americans can’t own their land on US reservations and they can’t own assets. That just seems unfathomable in a free country like the United States, but it is part and parcel of what has created Native American poverty in the sea of American wealth.