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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Lakota and Pueblo Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation (7/28)
Native Sun News: President of Oglala Sioux Tribe dodges bullets (7/28)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets business meeting on bills (7/28)
NIEA heads to Capitol Hill to advocate for Native language bills (7/28)
Obama signs Pascua Yaqui and Hoonah Indian Association bills (7/28)
Ho-Chunk Inc executive Lance Morgan receives business honor (7/28)
Charles Roessel: BIE reform plan includes teacher certification (7/28)
Troy Eid: Marijuana experiment in Colorado hurts Indian youth (7/28)
BIA hosts scoping meeting on Paiute Tribe land-into-trust bid (7/28)
Cherokee Nation program keeps former inmates out of prison (7/28)
Grand Ronde Tribes disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (7/28)
Protest targets disenrollments within Saginaw Chippewa Tribe (7/28)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariages (7/28)
KUOW: Coeur d'Alene Tribe cleans meth houses with EPA funds (7/28)
Law Article: Supreme Court sends reminder on tribal immunity (7/28)
Unsettled: Passamaquoddy Tribe awaits constitutional reform (7/28)
KGOU: Indian Times review of news affecting Oklahoma tribes (7/28)
Judge hears dispute over United Keetoowah Band gaming site (7/28)
Chumash Tribe plans hotel tower with $160M casino expansion (7/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe changes architects for casino plan (7/28)
Soo Tribe casino partner was developer behind failed racetrack (7/28)
Editorial: State must negotiate compact with Pojoaque Pueblo (7/28)
Native Sun News: IHS hospital at Pine Ridge undergoes review (7/25)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Group disturbs tranquility at Bear Butte (7/25)
Indian Health Service discloses privacy breach of patient data (7/25)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition regulation (7/25)
Navajo Nation president calling for FBI probe of brutal murders (7/25)
Jennie Stockle: Justice for victims of Cedarville mass shooting (7/25)
John Christian Hopkins: Waiting for Belgian waffles at Denny's (7/25)
Steven Pevar: Indian chldren are being taken from their homes (7/25)
IHS pays $53M to settle another contract support cost dispute (7/25)
Shinnecock Nation asserts control over tobacco amid pressure (7/25)
Four sentenced for stealing HHS funds from Oglala Sioux Tribe (7/25)
Unsettled: BIA questions Passamaquoddy forest management (7/25)
ASU News: First graduates of Indian studies master's program (7/25)
Blog: Tanka Fund aims to grow Indian Country's bison economy (7/25)
Opinion: A troubling relationship with Native peoples in Canada (7/25)
Opinion: Auction of tribal property in France sets bad precedent (7/25)
Puyallup Tribe cancels upcoming Ted Nugent concerts at casino (7/25)
Mayor gives conflicting view on Tohono O'odham Nation casino (7/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe plans to start work at gaming site (7/25)
Pojoaque Pueblo defends provisions in proposed gaming deal (7/25)
Iipay Nation puts Internet gaming servers on Mohawk reserve (7/25)
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
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.