Question: How do we pay?
Pay by check
Make check out to “Pay Indians Rent”
and mail check to:
Pay Indians Rent
Attn: Marc Halberstadt
2408 Mint Blvd.
Fairfield, IA 52556
Question: How much rent are you charging?
Answer: The minimum suggested rent payment is $1 per person, per month—or $12 per year, per person, regardless of age.
Question: Why do you charge $1 per person, per month?
Answer: For adults, we feel that $1 per person per month is, almost literally, the least that anyone can do—unless you’re talking about leaving spare change on the floor. 🙂
We don’t wish to place a hardship on anyone. If there is financial hardship, the important thing is to pay something rather than nothing.
FOR CHILDREN: Children should contribute a tiny amount from their allowance–so that they understand, conceptually, the educational lesson. A penny would be fine. For more information on children, please click on: “How to teach Native American sovereignty to your children.”
Question: How much rent do you feel is owed?
Answer: As a first step—because we are at the first step—we propose doing something rather than nothing—and when we thought about it further, we asked the question, what is, literally, the least we can do? And the answer came pretty quickly: everybody pays $1 per person per month—or $12 per year. This would apply to people of all ages. So, for example, a family of five would be paying $12 per year, per person, which would equal $60 per year.
Question: Is $1 per person, per month all the rent that Native Americans feel is owed to them?
Answer: This website does not represent any official or unofficial point of view from any Native American nation or organization. It is strictly our own opinion. We only can speak for ourselves and provide what we feel is a learning tool to raise awareness (as well as a way to help charities that serve the Native American community).
Question: What if somebody wants to pay more than $1 per person, per month?
Answer: At this stage, we are only asking people to do the minimum. $1 per person, per month is the least we all can do. We don’t ask for more than that—at least for now. But we DO ask you to pay that regularly—not just a one-time payment. For what it’s worth, in terms of this website and the organization we represent, we don’t have any plans of raising the rent—but we do have plans of trying to get everybody—children included—to participate in this learning process.
Question: Can I get a receipt?
Answer: Yes. Please leave us your email—or send a SASE—and we will send you a receipt. In the meantime, we want to announce an art contest for the best payIndiansrent.org rent receipt.
Question: Where does the money go?
Answer: The money will go to nonprofit organizations which support improving health and educational outcomes in the Native American community.
Our favorite charities—and we do have favorite themes for charities—fall into the health and educational field because that’s the way we were raised. We are especially interested in providing treatment for diabetes, heart disease, teenage suicide, PTSD, as well as other problems that are stress–related. We are also interested in improving educational outcomes.
We plan to have very low operating expenses, limited to the very bare minimum bookkeeping expenses and whatever else is absolutely necessary to administer the organization.
We also would like to keep you updated on our progress—the progress of our campaign in bringing payindiansrent.org to the awareness of the public in United States and Canada. Email us from the Contact page and we’ll put you on our list.
Question: Which Native American–oriented charities will receive these funds?
Answer: We are just beginning the process of developing a list of such charities and we will post them on this website as we develop it. In the meantime the checks will be safeguarded and not cashed until the State of Iowa provides us a nonprofit status. At that point, the checks will be deposited into a “Pay Indians Rent” account at First National Bank of Fairfield and all expenditures, by law, we believe, need to be made public.
Important note: No organization that we will fund will necessarily endorse any ideas of the film, CowJews and Indians, or the organization/website payindiansrent.org.
The Website and Organization
Question: What Native Americans support this initiative to pay Indians rent?
Answer: There is no official or unofficial endorsement of any ideas on this website by any organization of Native Americans. This website will be, initially, news to not only the non-native community but also the Native community. We expect that there will be significant debate within both communities as well as between the two communities.
Question: Is this a nonprofit organization?
Answer: Not yet. While we have been recently certified as a nonprofit organization in the State of Iowa, the much longer process of being federally certified is still in process. LegalZoom.com has been retained to file for tax-exempt status based on the 501(c)(3) application. There’s a lot of expense and paperwork involved. At this stage, your contribution will not be tax-deductible, although we are told that in retrospect, once we receive 501(c)(3) status, there is a backdated period of time in which donations will be tax-deductible. Since we are only asking for $1 per person, per month, we don’t presume this would bring much discomfort to donors.
Question: Who is in charge of this payIndiansrent.org website?
Answer: This is very much a grass roots operation. The Board of Directors are Marc Halberstadt, Nathan Blindman and Paul Schaefer.
Question: Is $1 per person, per month, all the rent that Native Americans feel are owed to them?
Answer: This website does not represent any official or unofficial point of view from any Native American nation or organization other than our own. We only speak for ourselves and are providing what we feel is a learning tool to raise awareness (as well as a way to help health and educational charities that serve the Native American community).
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
Question: There are many people living in the United States who feel that their tax dollars already support Native American nations. Why should they provide any more support? The Indians get all kinds of tax breaks and run casinos–why should they get more money?
Answer: If you assume that North America belongs to the American and Canadian governments and their citizens, then any of their tax dollars that is provided to Native American nations would appear to be a voluntary, goodwill gift.
But, if you assume that North America has been taken from the Indians in an immoral fashion, and all the resources that ostensibly belong to the U.S. and Canadian governments are resources that have been stolen by military might, then whatever funds the U.S. and Canadian governments give to the Indians are really funds that are derived from that theft. The resources, therefore, are not theirs to give because it’s not theirs to begin with.
Paying Indians rent is nowhere near an ideal solution for Native Americans—it is a temporary, work–around, partial, symbolic gesture that falls ridiculously short of the ideal. It is merely the least we all can do. But it provides a learning tool.
Question: Don’t we already give Indians the equivalent of rent—several billion dollars, actually—through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Services and through other government services?
Answer: All of the money and other forms of wealth on the American continent are developed on Indian land—and so for someone to mention the relative pittance given to Indians by the BIA—little more than a few dollars per person per month—is a little bit like—analogy time—someone steals your wallet and gives you a dime—and is offended if you are not grateful!
Further, the government budget for Indians is not something that reaches the hearts and minds of the individual U.S. and Canadian citizen. It’s an impersonal, third-party, legislative process that does not impinge on the awareness or conscience of the individual citizen.
Paying Indians rent is a learning tool, a tool for conversation and exploration about the Native American moral claim to America. It is not presented as an optional donation—it is presented as a debt, a relationship with a landlord, apart from reparations for damage. Yes, there are certain services that are provided to Native Americans—free education and health services, for example, but that’s a very different mental category than rent. It’s not done as a debt—it’s done as a favor. It’s a very different feeling in our awareness if it is in our awareness at all. The budget for BIA is not a matter that stimulates public discussion. It does not bring up the question of debt or sovereignty. It has no teaching value.
Question: If I am not Indian and am living in an area that is the subject of a land claim by a nearby Native American nation, does paying my rent—whatever the amount—exempt me legally or morally from these land claims?
Answer: Absolutely not. Paying Indians rent has no legal significance with respect to land claims, treaties, or anything else. For legal reasons, we are forced to say it is simply a charitable contribution.