indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Bush punishes BIA budget to pay for Cobell
Thursday, February 2, 2006

The Bush administration has made an across-the-board cut to the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget, blaming the reduction on the Cobell trust fund lawsuit.

In an unprecedented letter to tribal leaders, associate Interior deputy secretary Jim Cason announced a $3 million cut to the BIA budget. He said the administration failed to plan for attorney's fees awarded as part of the Cobell case even though the request for fees was pending for more than a year.

As a result, Cason said the BIA forked over $2 million from an account used to "reimburse tribal attorney's fees" and an additional $1 million came from an across-the-board rescission of tribal programs.

Additionally, the Office of Historical Trust Accounting and the Office of Special Trustee -- whose budgets have exploded since the start of the administration while BIA funding has remained flat -- contributed, Cason said. But their share only amounted to $2.3 million, according to the January 26 letter.

Finally, the Department of Treasury -- a named defendant in the suit whose officials were found in contempt of court and whose actions violated the trust responsibility -- contributed about $1.8 million, leaving the BIA to bear the brunt of the administration's failure to plan for the attorney's fees, which totaled $7.1 million.

"As this interim fee was not a planned expense, the [Interior] Department considered a wide range of options," Cason, a a non-Indian political appointee who has been acting as the head of the BIA for nearly a year, told tribal leaders.

The decision to make the cut and send out the letter drew strong criticism from Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation and an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, a non-profit organization that is co-counsel in the case. He accused the administration of employing "divide and conquer" tactics in order to generate backlash in Indian Country against the Cobell plaintiffs.

"This administration -- more than any other -- has shown by their actions in trust reform and their actions on sovereignty issues to be the most hostile administration in Indian affairs since termination," Harper said in an interview yesterday.

Harper said he has spoken to a handful of tribal leaders since the letter was sent out. "They see it as a political, transparent attempt to divide and conquer," he said.

Tribal leaders have repeatedly accused Bush officials of punishing Indian Country by bleeding the BIA budget while boosting funds for OST. "For fiscal years 2005 and 2006, funding cuts to BIA has reduced full time staff for law enforcement, education and other vital programs," said Tim Martin, the executive director of the United South and Eastern Tribes, at a Senate hearing last July.

"The Cobell litigation and DOI's interpretations of requirements to meet court orders has absorbed resources and limited the ability to implement already under-funded programs," he added.

A bill introduced by the leaders of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Resources Committee would ensure that funds used to settle the Cobell case and pay court and other fees would not come out of the BIA budget. Tribal leaders have endorsed this provision.

"Unquestionably, funds to settle the injustice against individual Indian money account holders cannot come from Indian programs," Jim Gray, the chief of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma and the chairman of the Inter-Tribal Monitoring Association, said in his testimony.

Key members of Congress have agreed with the tribal views. The House Interior Appropriations Committee has repeatedly reduced funding for OST in light of the administration's increasing requests for money.

"The committee does not agree to the large increase requested in historical accounting and has shifted this funding to help offset the reductions proposed in the administration's request to Indian education and health care," the committee said in a report for the 2006 budget.

Previously, Cason warned tribal leaders to expect cuts in the BIA budget due to spending on Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. At the National Congress of American Indians annual conference last November, he said the agency was "holding back" five percent of its funds in anticipation of an across-the-board cut.

The issues of budget and the resources for the Cobell case will considered in the upcoming weeks. On February 14, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing on President Bush's fiscal year 2007 budget request. On March 1, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Resources Committee will hold a joint hearing on the settlement of Cobell.

Jim Cason Letter:
Dear Tribal Leader (January 26, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

Related Stories:
Tribes discuss trust reform bill, Cobell settlement (1/31)
Commentary: Swimmer still not telling the truth on trust (1/26)
Opinion: Indians want $12B of 'YOUR' money (01/10)
Cobell: Appeals court ruling a favorable one (12/21)
Cobell team awarded fees for lengthy court fight (12/21)
Ross Swimmer: No 'lump sum' settlement for Cobell (12/19)
Attorney: Interior still not living up to trust duties (12/19)
Report: Cason says termination of trust on the table (12/16)
Still no agreement on settlement to Cobell (12/9)
Audio: House Resources hearing on Cobell (12/8)
House Resources to hold hearing on Cobell (12/5)
Elouise Cobell: Lamberth frustrated with DOI (11/28)
Judge Lamberth, the cowboy, sides with Indians (11/28)
Editorial: Settle Cobell trust fund lawsuit (11/25)
Cobell to press Interior on accounting mess (11/22)
Cobell says government not off the hook on trust fund (11/21)
Broad accounting of Indian trust fund blocked (11/16)
Battle over Cobell trust fund case heats up (10/24)
Interior ordered to protect Indian trust fund systems(10/21)
Lamberth issues new IT shutdown injunction (10/20)
Interior warned of computer security risks again (09/30)
Bush calls for new judge in Cobell v. Norton case (08/16)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (7/29)
DOI mum on settlement figure for Cobell v. Norton (7/27)
Indian leaders to pledge support on trust reform (7/26)
Listening Lounge: Senate hearing on Cobell (7/26)
Cobell calls trust reform bill a win for Interior (7/22)
McCain and Dorgan introduce trust reform legislation (7/22)
Opinion: Keep open mind on Cobell settlement (7/19)
McCain plans hearing on Cobell settlement, reform (7/14)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Trust reform costs put at $3B, thanks to Bush (6/13)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Chelsey Luger & Gyasi Ross: From slow suicide to slow healing (10/21)
Column: Billy Mills still inspires 50 years after Olympic victory (10/21)
Suquamish Tribe shares fish from hatchery at annual giveaway (10/21)
Tim Giago: Deaths of Native men in Rapid City remain unsolved (10/20)
Charles 'Chuck' Trimble: Let Crazy Horse's spirit rest in peace (10/20)
Mark Trahant: Races come down to turnout in three key states (10/20)
Native Sun News: Billy Mills wows youth at Black Hills Powwow (10/20)
Cedric Sunray: Tribes abandon traditional aspects of inclusion (10/20)
Dustina Gill: Vote for Rick Weiland to protect our sacred waters (10/20)
Ousted Project Runway contestant reaffirms Puyallup heritage (10/20)
White House Tribal Nations Conference takes place December 3 (10/20)
Bryan Brewer: Park helps Oglala Sioux Tribe protect its culture (10/20)
Robert Porter: Don't let tribal issues fall prey to partisan politics (10/20)
Gabe Galanda: Abramoff's playbook still used in Indian Country (10/20)
Jay Daniels: Let BIA make changes to rights-of-way regulation (10/20)
Mike McBride: Sovereign goodwill at a low in tribal tax dispute (10/20)
Top Navajo Nation court holds hearing in presidential dispute (10/20)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to open resort at ancestral site in Ohio (10/20)
Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas selects Lester Randall as new leader (10/20)
Editorial: Address safety concerns about tribal hunts at night (10/20)
Chukchansi Tribe sends layoff notices to most casino workers (10/20)
Rivals raise nearly $16M to block North Fork Rancheria casino (10/20)
Judge won't let BIA proceed with compact for Pojoaque Pueblo (10/20)
Candidates discuss Menominee Nation's off-reservation casino (10/20)
Opinion: Suckers help Chumash Tribe finance casino expansion (10/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe buckles to pressure on park (10/17)
Mark Trahant: Native vote could tip races in Idaho and Colorado (10/17)
Crystal Willcuts: Remembering the beauty that was my mother (10/17)
Blackfeet actress Misty Upham found dead after going missing (10/17)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation sues city over detachment petition (10/17)
Opinion: Politicians relying on Native voters in a close election (10/17)
Poarch Creeks donate another $500K to Democratic candidate (10/17)
Montana to transfer bison from Yellowstone to Fort Peck Tribes (10/17)
Opinion: Listen to Native Americans who oppose racist mascots (10/17)
Charges possible in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/17)
Oglala Sioux Tribe might open third casino under new compact (10/17)
Women dominate workforce at Northern Arapaho Tribe's casino (10/17)
Ho-Chunk Nation to shut down poker room after losing lawsuit (10/17)
Blog: What to know about Prop 48 and off-reservation gaming (10/17)
Native Sun News: Native vote plays key role in Senate matchup (10/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.