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
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...
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:
Senate committee to take up land-into-trust reform legislation (12/1)
Witnesses for SCIA hearing on Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (12/1)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe welcomes governor (12/1)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Trying to bridge racial divide in Rapid City (12/1)
Gyasi Ross: Native nations developed immigration policies too (12/1)
Mike Myers: Native youth are more than just election promises (12/1)
Native Sun News: Lakota swimmers promote healthy lifestyles (11/30)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Indoctrinated at Indian boarding school (11/30)
Brandon Ecoffey: President of tribal college takes aim at paper (11/30)
Bobbi Rose Nez: Big Brothers Big Sisters reaches Native youth (11/30)
Terry Brunner: USDA helping tribes build stronger economies (11/30)
Alice Soscia: Connecticut tribes share wealth with community (11/30)
Brigid Harrison: Lenni-Lenape Nation battles for recognition (11/30)
Supreme Court throws wrench into Native Hawaiian election (11/30)
Official in Paraguay fired for kicking Indian woman in stomach (11/30)
Jamul Indian Village slated to open $390M casino in July 2016 (11/30)
Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
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.