indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Film company aims to bring Native stories to life (9/2)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Native candidate joins rival in governor's race (9/2)
Jeromy Sullivan: Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe cleans up homelands (9/2)
Walt Lamar: Tribes face problems dealing with legalized marijuana (9/2)
Jennie Stockle: Fans mock Cherokee people with Trail of Tears sign (9/2)
DaShanne Stokes: State-recognized tribes need eagle feathers too (9/2)
BIA holds final meetings on reforms to federal recognition process (9/2)
Comanche Nation recognizing Code Talkers with new gravestones (9/2)
Police in Manitoba seek information on two missing Native sisters (9/2)
Indian studies professor denied position over remarks about Israel (9/2)
Alaska Natives excluded from secret military intelligence program (9/2)
Opinion: Decision calls Indian payday lender's arbitration a 'sham' (9/2)
Judge schedules hearing in Gun Lake Tribe's gaming land litigation (9/2)
Poarch Creeks see revenues increase as gaming operation grows (9/2)
Viejas Band looking to expand casino after reaching new compact (9/2)
California tribes are drawing large numbers of Filipinos to casinos (9/2)
Mohegan Tribe wants 'right-sized' commercial casino in New York (9/2)
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Mark Trahant: It's past time for tribal leaders to govern the nation (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
National Museum of the American Indian celebrates 10th birthday (9/1)
Mother arrested in connection with child's death on Navajo Nation (9/1)
Opinion: Energy development can help secure tribal independence (9/1)
Cherokee Nation announces $170M casino and retail development (9/1)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe won't be sharing gaming revenues this quarter (9/1)
Seminole Tribe on track to see gaming revenues increase to $2.1B (9/1)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to reopen gaming facility in February 2015 (9/1)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation didn't play by 'rules' with casino (9/1)
Opinion: Gaming good for Eastern Cherokees but not for fellow tribe (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
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.