Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
ads@blueearthmarketing.com   712.224.5420

Opinion
Opinion: Get rid of assistant secretary position


"Since 1974, I have watched a long line of sincere men enter full of hope and ideas, only to leave disillusioned and targets of tribal dissidents. Please believe me. It would not make a difference if the AS-IA was an Indian or a non-Indian, a Democrat or Republican. This would happen regardless of which political party was in power. I suggest you refuse the nomination while you still have your honor and integrity.

In its sad history, only three men have held the job longer than one year. Eddie Brown, Tohono O'odham, served for four years with Secretary Manuel Chavez. The next-longest service was by Ross Swimmer, Oklahoma Cherokee, who lasted two and a half years. Ken Smith, Warm Springs, Ore., served two years. All the rest resigned after one year or less. Then things got worse. The following came and left just since the year 2000, eight AS-IAs in eight years: Kevin Gover, Michael Anderson, James McDevitt, Neil McCaleb, Aurene M. Martin, David W. Anderson, James A. Cason and Carl Artman.

The people who agreed to serve were honest and sincere, but they forgot their political party's golden rule: ''If appointed to a position in the president's administration, you must be loyal to the party and work at the pleasure of the president.'' When I warned one recent appointee of this golden rule, he said he had been promised that he could make changes and suggestions to improve the BIA's service to Indian people. He quickly learned otherwise. Their motto seems to be, ''Promises are made to be broken.''

All political appointees to the position of assistant secretary for Indian Affairs have been required to carry out the mandates and policies of the president, and with little input or consultation by or with tribal leadership. It's time to put an end to this foolishness, and to reinstate the position of commissioner of Indian Affairs."

Get the Story:
Elmer Savilla: Bring back our commissioner (Indian Country Today 5/30)

Related Stories:
Top BIA post filled for now by career employee (5/28)
Skibine to assume duties of assistant secretary (5/27)
Artman to testify one final time before leaving office (5/22)
Senate hearing on backlogs at Interior Department (5/21)
Gaming regulations finalized by resigning Artman (5/20)
BIA to issue Section 20 rules for gaming acquisitions (5/19)
BIA cancels four land-into-trust environmental reviews (5/19)
Dorgan disappointed by Artman's resignation (5/2)
Unfinished business for BIA after Artman (5/1)
Artman resigns after a year as head of BIA (4/29)
Artman acknowledges Indian preference ruling (4/15)
Judge backs Indian preference at Interior (4/4)
DOI won't comment on new land-into-trust policy (3/24)
Artman suggests mileage limit for off-reservation land (02/28)
BIA starts new year with off-reservation gaming policy (1/7)
Rejected tribes want casinos too far from reservations (1/7)
Carl Artman letter on off-reservation gaming (1/4)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe responds to BIA rejection (1/4)
Bush holding back off-reservation gaming proposals (11/16)
BIA tackles land-into-trust backlog (11/9)
New York tribe pushes Interior to act on casino land (11/1)
BIA still having trouble accounting for land-into-trust (10/5)
Cason explains misgivings on land-into-trust (4/20)
Artman jumps into job as new head of BIA (4/12)
Artman highlights priorities as head of BIA (4/5)
Leadership changes at BIA under Artman (4/2)
Senate finally confirms Artman to head BIA (3/6)
Update from NCAI 2007 winter session: Day 3 (3/1)
Update from NCAI 2007 winter session: Day 2 (2/28)
Congressional Record: Support for Carl Artman (2/22)
New York governor approves off-reservation casino (2/20)
Off-reservation gaming concerns at Interior (2/16)
Senate panel promises strong backing for BIA nominee (2/2)
Artman up for Senate confirmation hearing again (1/29)
BIA continues work on gaming land regulation (12/04)
BIA nominee's tribal background prompts recusal (09/15)
BIA nominee Carl Artman to go before Senate panel (9/14)
Nomination hearing for Artman set for Thursday (9/12)
NCAI welcomes Artman as assistant secretary (08/03)
Carl Artman, Oneida, named assistant secretary (08/02)