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
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Land-into-trust requests fall into BIA's 'black hole'
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Filed Under: Politics

What happens when a tribe submits a land-into-trust application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

Tribal leaders hope it will be processed in a timely manner. But in the face of lengthy waits, many are wondering what is going on at the agency that is charged with serving their needs.

"The message we're getting is just there is no movement," said Brenda Litinger, a council member for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, at the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) meeting last week.

Litinger said her tribe wants to have land placed in trust for non-gaming purposes. That shouldn't be controversial but there's been no action for a couple of years, she told Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary at the Interior Department.

"We are being hindered by this delay, by this black hole," Litinger said last Wednesday.

Christine Norris, the chief of the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana, shared a similar story. As a recently recognized tribe, the Choctaws are waiting for Interior to make a "reservation proclamation" for their initial land base.

But Norris said she has no idea what is happening with the application now that it has been sent to the BIA's central office in Washington, D.C. "I am not getting any response, any telephone calls returned," she told Cason.

"It seems as if it's fallen into a black hole," Norris added.

A couple of days later, the tribes' fears were compounded by the testimony of the Government Accountability Office. At the first hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on Friday, lawmakers were told that the land-into-trust process is only getting worse.

"Over 1,000 land in trust applications from tribes and individual Indians are currently pending," said Robin Nazarro, the director of natural resources and Environment at the GAO. That's up from the "hundreds" a BIA official told a Senate committee back in May 2005.

According to the GAO, the median processing time for a land-into-trust application is 1.2 years. But one tribe waited 13 years and another waited 19 years to receive an answer.

Since the Indian Reorganization Act, the law that created the land-into-trust process, does not impose timelines on the BIA, the agency can take as long as it wants to complete the process. At the USET meeting, Cason confirmed that some tribes will have to wait longer than others due to limited staff and controversies associated with Indian gaming.

Cason said that non-gaming applications are being handled after gaming and gaming-related applications. He also cited problems with the BIA's land title system and inaccurate or missing data. One regional office in Oklahoma wasn't even entering any of its data into the system, according to a GAO report.

"I had to set some priorities ... and in setting the priorities, new land-into-trust ended up being a lower priority," Cason told attendees of USET.

The BIA is currently revamping its land-into-trust processes but again, gaming acquisitions have been given a higher priority. The agency's "Section 20" regulations -- named for the section of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act -- are due to be finalized this spring.

The "151" regulations -- named for a section of the Code of Federal Regulations that affect non-gaming acquisitions -- are still on the back burner. In 2001, the Bush administration rescinded a set of rules that, for the first time, would have imposed deadlines on the BIA.

Government Accountability Office Testimony:
Department of the Interior: Major Management Challenges (February 16, 2007)

Government Accountability Office Report:
BIA's Efforts to Impose Time Frames and Collect Better Data Should Improve the Processing of Land in Trust Applications | Highlights

Interior Department Inspector General Evaluation Report:
Process Used to Assess Applications to Take Land Into Trust for Gaming Purposes (September 2005)

Related Stories:
Appeals court to hear land-into-trust case (01/08)
Appeals court to rehear land-into-trust dispute (12/07)
BIA continues work on gaming land regulation (12/04)
Land-into-trust report points to tribe's impact (11/27)
Michigan tribe gets land-into-trust date in 2007 (11/03)
Interior delays latest trust reform regulations (11/01)
Another GAO report looks at land-into-trust (10/25)
GAO finds lengthy delays on land-into-trust (8/28)
Interior releases new probate and land regulations (08/09)
Interior Department big on new regulations (04/24)
Legislation won't address all land-into-trust issues (04/05)
BIA holds consultation on Section 20 regulations (3/31)
BIA sets meetings for Section 20 regulations (3/28)
Off-reservation casino sites still in question (3/16)
Listening Lounge: Hearing on off-reservation gaming (3/15)
BIA sets timetable for new gaming regulations (03/01)
Senate panel presses BIA on gaming regulations (02/02)
BIA takes stab at land-into-trust for gaming rules (2/1)
Witness list for hearing on off-reservation gaming (1/31)
Senate panel delves into gaming again for 2006 (01/25)
Lobbying reform, gaming high on Congressional agenda (01/20)
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute (01/09)
IGRA amendments tough on many, especially tribes (12/12)
Oklahoma tribe hires ex-BIA official to lobby for land (12/01)
McCain proposes major amendments to IGRA (11/30)
NIGC adopts new approach for tribal gaming sites (11/14)
Tribes dispute local power over trust land decisions (11/10)
DOJ releases proposed changes to Indian gaming law (10/06)
DOJ gaming proposal shows changes to Johnson Act (10/05)
BIA official revives off-reservation land regulations (09/21)
DOJ proposes major change in Indian gaming law (09/16)
Gaming clouds already lengthy land-into-trust process (09/15)
Oklahoma tribe plans state's largest gaming facility (08/02)
NIGC develops system to track Indian lands (07/28)
Perception and realities in land-into-trust debate (05/19)
Land into trust to be examined at Senate hearing (5/10)
Land-into-trust problems aired at Senate hearing (4/28)
Update: Senate hearing on Indian gaming (04/27)
BIA backs bill to delay off-reservation casino (04/06)
Off-reservation casinos a concern at gaming summit (03/30)
Bush stance on off-reservation gaming unknown (03/29)
Exceptions to IGRA more common than often cited (03/21)
Off-reservation casino dropped as debate continues (03/21)
Off-reservation gaming hearing set by Pombo (3/15)
Agencies still in conflict over off-reservation gaming (12/07)
McCaleb calls Chickasaws savvy, not deceptive (10/26)
Official tells Chickasaw land-into-trust tactics (10/25)
Cole says Chickasaw Nation made promises on land (09/16)
BIA approves compact for gaming on former reservation (03/25)
Chickasaw Nation land purchases quadruple (03/23)
Hogen says Okla. tribes skirting federal gaming law (05/19)
Indian gaming law not always followed (5/14)
Okla. tribe leaps over Indian gaming hurdles (04/23)
Chickasaw Nation 'followed the law' (6/28)
Tribe's land approvals questioned (6/11)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
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)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
Oglala Sioux Tribe still working on plan for legal alcohol sales (7/24)
Two Native girls charged with assault for hockey game brawl (7/24)
Chickasaw Nation welcomes public to new community center (7/24)
Oregon tribe plans major development at historic village site (7/24)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
KCAW: BLM supports Alaska Native corporation in land dispute (7/24)
Mixed martial arts fighter from Lumbee Tribe proud of heritage (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Opinion: Chief Black Hawk was notorious leader of Ute people (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
Fighter seriously injured at Trinidad Rancheria's casino event (7/24)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe concerned about potential gaming site (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
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.