indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Urban Indian organization seeks new center (11/26)
Tentative schedule for White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/26)
Dean Suagee: EPA's Clean Power Plan affects Indian Country (11/26)
Mark Rogers: Finding something to be thankful for this holiday (11/26)
Appeal set in dispute over Navajo Nation presidential hopeful (11/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe to issue IDs at tournament (11/25)
James Giago Davies: Polygamy and shunning in Lakota culture (11/25)
Ben Shelly: There's a lot to be thankful for on the Navajo Nation (11/25)
Cara Cowan Watts: Share the blessings of the Cherokee Nation (11/25)
Joe Sexton: BIA's 'ugly' land policies stuck in the 19th century (11/25)
Jenny Durkan: Cop who killed Native man wasn't charged either (11/25)
Oklahoma claims Citizen Potawatomi Nation must collect taxes (11/25)
Divided court won't extend Seneca Nation immunity to business (11/25)
Vice: North Dakota tribe sees $25M a month in energy royalties (11/25)
Members of Lumbee Tribe proud to carry on tradition of service (11/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe donates $10K to local food pantry (11/25)
Slate: Non-Indians were encouraged to move to tribal territory (11/25)
Column: Remains of Dakota man hanged in 1862 kept in home (11/25)
Family members plead guilty to thefts from reservation town (11/25)
Authorities investigate fatal crash involving Bad River officer (11/25)
Editorial: Yakama Nation must disclose plans for clean water (11/25)
Roy Burton: Montana tribe puts its people at risk with gaming (11/25)
Lawmaker asks BIA to wait on Cowlitz Tribe casino acquisition (11/25)
Gaming compacts on agenda for 2015 session in New Mexico (11/25)
Quapaw Tribe faces even more competition for Kansas casino (11/25)
Pala Band wins final approval for online gaming in New Jersey (11/25)
Mashantucket Tribe still thinking about Massachusetts casino (11/25)
Tim Giago: Cornflakes every Sunday at Indian boarding school (11/24)
Charles Trimble: A time to give thanks -- For whatever reason (11/24)
Mark Trahant: Incoming Alaska governor opens doors to tribes (11/24)
Native Sun News: Four from South Dakota win big at rodeo final (11/24)
Suzan Shown Harjo to receive Medal of Freedom at White House (11/24)
Bill John Baker: Take pride in Cherokee Nation accomplishments (11/24)
Bryan Brewer: Tribal communities need better Internet service (11/24)
Harold Monteau: Teach children about our positive tribal values (11/24)
Crystal Willcuts: Keystone XL Pipeline just makes the rich richer (11/24)
PBS: VAWA helps tribes go after non-Indian domestic offenders (11/24)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in shock after shooting leaves 4 dead (11/24)
Complaint against Navajo Nation presidential hopeful dismissed (11/24)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe defends online loan business amid scrutiny (11/24)
Chippewa Cree Tribe swears in chairman more than a year later (11/24)
Florida Supreme Court declines Miccosukee child custody case (11/24)
Three arrested in fatal stabbing at Yankton Sioux tribal housing (11/24)
Mille Lacs Band grows economy with Oklahoma hotel purchase (11/24)
Editorial: BIA fails to resolve Cayuga Nation leadership dispute (11/24)
Former Choctaw Nation employee plans appeal in criminal case (11/24)
Faction of Chukchansi Tribe walks away from casino mediation (11/24)
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.