indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tribes say BIA failures threaten self-governance
Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday heard conflicting testimony from tribal and federal officials about the successes and failures of self-governance.

Tribal leaders and Bureau of Indian Affairs officials hailed self-governance, and self-determination, as a landmark policy. They said it puts more control into the hands of tribes as they decide their own futures.

But tribal leaders said the program is threatened by inadequate funding and bureaucratic holdups. They told the committee that the BIA fails to fulfill the contracts and compacts it signs with tribes and often delivers the money late.

"Unfortunately, self-governance programs have strayed from their original intent to strengthen Indian self-determination and self-sufficiency," testified Delia Carlyle, the chairwoman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona.

Carlyle cited a $200,000 promise made by the BIA to help the tribe build a road on the reservation. That was back in 2004, she said, but money never came so the tribe had to dip into its own budget.

"Finally, we have recently been informed by [BIA] that the funding should be available soon but the amount is less than originally promised," she said.

Floyd Jourdain Jr., the chairman of the Red Lake Nation of Minnesota, said his tribe has been denied millions of dollars for over a decade due to infighting within the BIA. He said officials have failed to pay annual cost of living increases for employees under self-governance agreements.

As a result, he said tribes nationwide have been forced to absorb over $500 million in unfunded pay costs. "Currently, there is little financial incentive to encourage tribes newly contemplating self-governance, or even for existing self-governance tribes to maintain their status," he told the committee.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the committee, agreed with the tribal assessments. He said the failure to fully fund self-governance has led to fewer tribes joining the program and even to some tribes dropping out.

"It seems to fly in the face of everything that tribes seek and what we, as a nation, want tribes to do," he said.

But George Skibine, the acting deputy assistant secretary of policy and economic development at the BIA, denied knowledge of a reduction in self-governance. He said he was "not aware" of any slow down in the program.

"It's true the number of tribes seeking self-governace compacts has gone progressively down," he said.

After some repeated questions, another acting BIA official acknowledged that the BIA fails to fully fund the compacts and contracts for the agreed-upon amount and often delivers money for welfare, social services and reservation roads late. McCain appeared visibly upset by the answers.

Tribes won a major legal victory in March 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that federal agencies must fully fund the self-determination and self-governance agreements. Government attorneys had argued that tribal contracts were different from contracts for other services.

Despite the win, tribes still aren't receiving the money they are due because of language in the Interior Department's appropriation act. The acting BIA official said it would be up to Congress to change the situation.

Tribes have repeatedly asked Congress to fix the problem. This year, they are seeking a "bootstrap" amendment that would address certain issues while a more comprehensive solution can be developed.

Senate Hearing Links:
Testimony | Webcast

Supreme Court Decision Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt:
Sylalbus | Opinion [Breyer] | Concurrence [Scalia]

Relevant Links:
Contract Support Cost Litigation - http://www.cscclass.net
NCAI Contract Support - http://www.ncai.org/Contract_Support.36.0.html
Indian Health Service, Phoenix Area - http://www.ihs.gov/FacilitiesServices/AreaOffices/Phoenix

Related Stories:
Nevada tribe finally paid for health services contract (04/26)
Tribes continue fight for self-determination contracts (12/16)
BIA ordered to pay for self-determination contract (09/26)
Contracts still an issue despite Supreme Court win (04/14)
Indian Affairs Committee objects to Bush funding cuts (03/08)
Cherokee Nation celebrates Supreme Court win (03/03)
Tribes win decision in contract support cost case (03/02)
Tribal budget advisory council backs tribal colleges (03/01)
Bush budget seeks cuts to Indian education programs (02/10)
Congress restores Bush's cuts to Indian programs (11/22)
Tribal contracts pose conflict for U.S. Supreme Court (11/10)
Court to hear self-determination contract case (11/9)
Supreme Court takes action on Indian law cases (11/02)
Campbell says agencies afraid of helping tribes (04/30)
Tribes ask Congress to address contract shortfalls (04/28)
Supreme Court to resolve self-determination dispute (03/23)
Supreme Court weighs self-determination dispute (03/09)
Court rules tribe owed self-determination funds (07/07)
Appeals court turns down Navajo Nation again (04/09)
Court rebuffs tribes on contract funding dispute (11/27)
Navajo Nation challenges contract policy (10/04)

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

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Not guilty verdict after Lakota 57 trial (9/1)
President Obama meets Native leaders after landing in Alaska (9/1)
Rhonda Pitka: Alaska Natives put priority on subsistence rights (9/1)
Transcript: Obama remarks following Native leaders roundtable (9/1)
94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song (9/1)
Politicians in Ohio oppose return of Alaska Native name for peak (9/1)
Passamaquoddy Tribe takes a step toward marijuana cultivation (9/1)
Center for Native American Youth seeks new executive director (9/1)
Supreme Court takes up petition in Kialegee Tribal Town dispute (9/1)
NCAI pushes for court rehearing in tribal labor sovereignty case (9/1)
Education Department awards $50.4M in grants to tribal colleges (9/1)
Native Sun News: Teens attacked on Rosebud Sioux Reservation (9/1)
Clara Caufield: Cheyenne brothers and sisters share language (9/1)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Shutting down a new generation of hate (9/1)
Jennifer Fielder: Tribes struggling to break free from bondage (9/1)
Brian Pierson: Big decision in Seminole Tribe's taxation case (9/1)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Young tribal members cited for wild rice harvest in Minnesota (9/1)
Lake named for war secretary who pushed for removal of tribes (9/1)
Tribal college students participate in NASA challenge in Virginia (9/1)
La Jolla Band welcomes visitors to longest zip line in California (9/1)
Chukchansi Tribe still aiming for reopening of casino this month (9/1)
Cherokee Nation contributed $11M to upgrade road near casino (9/1)
President Obama restores Alaska Native name of highest peak (8/31)
BIA announces $1.75M in grants fot tribal education programs (8/31)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux counselor combats youth suicide (8/31)
Native Sun News: Lakota 57 parents seek counseling for incident (8/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: I remember I am alive and a survivor (8/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women betrayed in violence fight (8/31)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Blood quantum used to judge Indian people (8/31)
Sally Jewell: Native youth serve as Ambassadors for the Arctic (8/31)
Turtle Talk Poll: The enduring legacy of Supreme Court decision (8/31)
First Native woman Ashley Callingbull wins Mrs. Universe title (8/31)
Native boy lands role as son of Leonardo DiCaprio in new film (8/31)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe considers petition to legalize hemp (8/31)
Spirit Lake Nation declares state of emergency to fight drugs (8/31)
Mississippi Choctaws pick Phyllis Anderson as chief once again (8/31)
Former Pokagon Band leader to leave Michigan civil rights post (8/31)
More executives targeted in Chippewa Cree Tribe criminal probe (8/31)
Pueblo water system held hostage by county in trespassing spat (8/31)
Kootenai Tribe to create recovery plan for last wild caribou herd (8/31)
Chair of Duwamish Tribe presses Secretary Jewell on recognition (8/31)
Opinion: Islamic extremists are making inroads on reservations (8/31)
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.