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

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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe battles uranium mine (4/18)
Clara Caufield: BIA audits Northern Cheyenne police force (4/18)
Jay Daniels: Cobell settlement was flawed from beginning (4/18)
Peter d'Errico: Washington team makes a colonial invasion (4/18)
Former NFL player jailed for DUI on Salt River Reservation (4/18)
BIA advances off-reservation casino projects in California (4/18)
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Governor carries on divisive tactics (4/17)
Navajo president criticizes NIGA for withdrawing from event (4/17)
Crystal Willcuts: NFL trickster speaks with a crooked tongue (4/17)
Opinion: NFL team owner flashes money to defend racial slur (4/17)
Ten reservations account for biggest share of Cobell buyback (4/17)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes megaloads through reservation (4/17)
Indian artists seek more control over popular annual market (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Lynn Valbuena returns to chairman post at San Manuel Band (4/17)
Yale University museum accused of stealing Tlingit artifacts (4/17)
Navajo Nation Council speaker still on leave amid court fight (4/17)
BIA asked to invalidate Shinnecock Nation's new constitution (4/17)
Onondaga Nation is negotiations over tobacco taxation issue (4/17)
Sen. Warren addresses Native American controversy in book (4/17)
Race relations council looking to boost efforts in border town (4/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (4/17)
Opinion: University must eventually eliminate Ute nickname (4/17)
Appeals court in Canada rules for Metis in Indian status caes (4/17)
9th Circuit hears dispute over Redding Rancheria gaming site (4/17)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe set to launch new poker games on May 2 (4/17)
Judge hears arguments in lawsuit against Jamul Band casino (4/17)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks qualify for Class III gaming in Florida (4/17)
Opinion: Gaming interests prepare for next attack on Florida (4/17)
Native Sun News: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
First member of Pascua Yaqui Tribe signs to play basketball (4/16)
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Smith passes away at age of 88 (4/16)
Dean Chavers: Indian journalism owes big debt to Tim Giago (4/16)
Nicholet Deschine: KTNN accepts 'hush money' for racial slur (4/16)
Jack Duran: Grindstone Rancheria finally gets a seat at table (4/16)
Dry Creek Rancheria to hold disenrollment hearings this week (4/16)
Hate group plans to protest at Alaska Native Heritage Center (4/16)
Colorado House passes bill to expand Indian tuition program (4/16)
Ute Tribe signs five-year agreement with University of Utah (4/16)
Mississippi Choctaws on track to open health facility in 2015 (4/16)
Judges from Turtle Mountain Band threatened with removal (4/16)
City in New York to drop legal battles against Oneida Nation (4/16)
Quinault Nation to reopen lake on reservation to non-Indians (4/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.