your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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 -
NCAI Contract Support -
Indian Health Service, Phoenix Area -

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:
Donald Trump embraces big energy projects like Dakota Access (10/24)
Tim Giago: No one feels honored by racist & offensive mascots (10/24)
Mark Trahant: North Dakota takes #NoDAPL battle to extremes (10/24)
Cedric Sunray: Cherokee Nation tries to 'Trump' Indian arts law (10/24)
Native Sun News Today: Republican won't agree to tribal forum (10/24)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe opens nursing home (10/24)
Clara Caufield: Tribute to outgoing Northern Cheyenne leader (10/24)
Mary Annette Pember: North Dakota on #NoDAPL crackdown (10/24)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Native women deserve to be respected (10/24)
Steven Newcomb: Getting to the origins of federal Indian law (10/24)
Peter d'Errico: Seminole Tribe embraces limits on sovereignty (10/24)
Pregnant woman on Muckleshoot Reservation killed by police (10/24)
Bus returning from Torres-Martinez Band casino in fatal crash (10/24)
Jamul Indian Village refinances $460M in casino related debt (10/24)
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye backs Hillary Clinton (10/21)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band disputes 'Trump, You're Fired' story (10/21)
Repatriation review committee announces additional meetings (10/21)
Native Sun News Today: Ping-pong continues in #NoDAPL case (10/21)
Lakota Country Times: 'Reel Jobs' school nurtures Lakota talent (10/21)
James Giago Davies: Drugs and crime overrun our reservations (10/21)
Dana Lone Hill: Becoming a grandmother is life's highest honor (10/21)
Misty Perkins: Indigenous voices are lost in colonial translation (10/21)
John Leguizamo: Who was 'mistreating indigenous people' first? (10/21)
Bureau of Land Management confirms repatriation for ancestor (10/21)
Cowlitz Tribe opposes coal export terminal on aboriginal lands (10/21)
Crow Tribe signs agreement to resolve long-running tax dispute (10/21)
National Indian Gaming Commission refutes online gaming claim (10/21)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation stays quiet on long-delayed casino plan (10/21)
Alaska tribes enter new era with first land-into-trust application (10/20)
Native leaders in Alaska endorse Hillary Clinton in historic move (10/20)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finishes update to model juvenile code (10/20)
Utah group aims to elevate Native issues in an unusual election (10/20)
Chemehuevi Tribe secures approval of HEARTH Act regulations (10/20)
Poarch Band of Creek Indians can't be sued for firing employee (10/20)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala veteran shot and killed by police (10/20)
Lakota Country Times: Founders of annual Spiritual Run honored (10/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Education system diminishes our people (10/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: It's business as usual for South Dakota's GOP (10/20)
Morgan Rodman: Federal agencies work to protect treaty rights (10/20)
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.