indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Supreme Court weighs self-determination dispute
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The U.S. Supreme Court is again being asked to review a federal funding policy that tribes say treats them as second class citizens.

Over the last 30 years, tribes have exercised greater control of their affairs by taking over programs that were once managed by the government. But they say the federal agencies aren't providing tribes with enough funds to administer the services properly.

"If the U.S. has a contractual relationship with anybody out there in the U.S., it honors those contracts," Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe of Washington, said recently. "Today, the U.S. is not honoring the full contracts that it has with existing tribes."

Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, tribes enter into contracts to manage Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs programs. The law, passed in 1975, requires that the tribes receive no less than the amount the government would have spent on the programs.

The law also requires the government provide tribes with additional funds, known as contract support costs, needed to carry out the contracts. A dispute has arisen, though, over just how much is needed.

According to the National Congress of American Indians, the dispute is costing tribes millions of dollars. For the current year, NCAI estimates the shortfall for contract support costs at the IHS is $94 million while the shortfall at the BIA is $48 million.

In a brief to the high court, the Department of Justice says the federal agencies can't award full contract support cases to tribes due to two limitations imposed by Congress. The first is the amount Congress appropriates for the contracts. The second is a restriction on "reprogramming," or shifting other funds, to cover the shortfalls.

"Those limits reflect the fact that self-determination agreements are not government procurement contracts -- they are not purchases for the federal government," the brief states. "Instead, they are governmental funding arrangements under which the tribes are substituted for a federal agency both in furnishing governmental services and in receiving federal funding for that purpose."

Two federal appeals courts have agreed with this interpretation. In separate decisions, the 9th Circuit and the 10th Circuit were sympathetic to tribal complaints but said the agencies were restricted by Congress.

"As this case demonstrates, the adequacy of the funding provided for tribal indirect costs has proven to be a recurring and troublesome issue," wrote 10th Circuit Judge Stephen H. Anderson in a unanimous November 2002 decision against the the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of Nevada. The 9th Circuit case involved the Shoshone-Bannock Nation of Idaho.

The Federal Circuit, however, arrived at a different conclusion. In July 2003, the court said the Cherokee Nation was owed full contract support costs for administering IHS programs. "We cannot agree that the Secretary had discretion to refuse to reprogram to meet his contractual obligations," wrote Judge Timothy B. Dyk in a unanimous ruling.

The tribe had already appealed the 10th Circuit ruling when the Federal Circuit ruling came down against the government. In response, the Department of Justice said it did not oppose Supreme Court review of the 10th Circuit case, and then filed a petition to review the Federal Circuit case. A conference is scheduled March 19 to review both cases, after which the justices will announce whether to hear them.

NCAI is urging members of Congress to amend existing law in order to fund self-determination contracts fully. "It is time to change the system for funding these government contracts," NCAI president Tex Hall wrote in a November 7 letter to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Resources Committee. "Indian tribes should no longer be treated as 'second class' contractors."

"Let's pay these contracts 100 percent," said Allen, who spoke about the issue at NCAI's recent winter session. Allen serves as NCAI's treasurer.

Get the Decision:
Thompson v. Cherokee Nation (July 3, 2003)

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet No. 03-853: Thompson v. Cherokee Nation | Docket Sheet No. 02-1472: Cherokee Nation v. Thompson | Department of Justice Petition No. 03-853 | Department of Justice Supplemental Brief No. 02-1472

Related Decisions:
10th Circuit: Cherokee Nation v. Thompson, No. 01-7106 (November 26, 2002) | 9th Circuit: Shoshone-Bannock v. Thompson (October 16, 2001) | 9th Circuit: Navajo Nation v. HHS, No. 99-16129 (April 8, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Contract Support Costs, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/issues/
governance/contract_support.asp

Related Stories:
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 2000-2004 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:
Another week goes by without decision in tribal jurisdiction case (5/31)
Field hearing in South Dakota on Indian Health Service reform bill (5/31)
Indian Health Service reaches first tribal compact in Great Plains (5/31)
Supreme Court won't hear long-running Seneca Nation land case (5/31)
Native Sun News: Longtime Indian Health Service staff reassigned (5/31)
Lakota Country Times: Native newspaper brings home 14 awards (5/31)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our language doesn't need 'expert' approval (5/31)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne show love for commod cheese (5/31)
Editorial: Newspaper continues to grow and reach Native readers (5/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Rosebud Sioux Tribe battles meth epidemic (5/31)
Ruth Hopkins: Elizabeth Warren is counting coup on Donald Trump (5/31)
Debra Haaland: Donald Trump mocks Native people and our history (5/31)
Harlan McKosato: Let's conduct new poll on the racist NFL mascot (5/31)
Raymond Foxworth: Tribal opposition to racist names still matters (5/31)
Steven Newcomb: Original nations pushed to accept lower status (5/31)
Mike Myers: Roadblocks to true self-governance in Indian Country (5/31)
Carly McIntosh: A real live study on the use of medical marijuana (5/31)
Young member of Coushatta Tribe dies after bee attack in Arizona (5/31)
Washoe Tribe and Poarch Band celebrate opening of unique casino (5/31)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about anti-casino lawsuit (5/31)
Ak-Chin Indian Community reacts to measles exposure at casino (5/31)
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
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.