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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Budget shifts for reorganization criticized at hearing
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Tribal and Congressional leaders warned on Wednesday that Indian programs face more budget cuts in the coming years due to the Bush administration's handling of trust reform.

At a lengthy oversight hearing before the House Resources Committee, the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs came under fire as tribes and members of Congress questioned how it was being funded. The quick answer: the money is being funneled to the Office of Special Trustee, whose budget has grown by 54 percent and 44 percent in the last two years while education, health and other Indian programs have been cut.

"I understand that there's not a transfer slip that says, you know, take money from [Indian Health Service] and transfer $2 million to OST but the bottom line is that what's happening," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), the vice-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

Interior Department officials denied they were financing trust reform on the backs of Indian Country. "There has been a concern that the role of the Special Trustee has been expanded greatly and that all of the money has been moved from the BIA budget to the OST budget," said Special Trustee Ross Swimmer.

"That's simply a mistake. It's not true. It's not happening," he said.

But tribal leaders offered strong evidence that the Bush administration is shifting money away from Indian programs to pay for the reorganization. In some cases, the money doesn't exist, they said.

The salaries of new deputy superintendents -- to be located at more than 80 BIA reservation agencies -- comes out of "carryover," or surplus funds from last year's budget, said Harold Frazier, chairman of chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. "That funding for their salaries will not be there next year," he said.

"So we question, where are they going to get their salaries from? Education? Social services? Road maintenance" asked Frazier, who also serves as head of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association. "Our people cannot take any more cuts to fund this reorganization."

The Bush administration is spending upwards of $15 million to hire dozens of new employees at the GS-13 and GS-14 employee levels. The salaries for these positions runs as high as $110,000.

Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe from Minnesota, questioned whether self-governance tribes would lose out on money because programs formerly managed by the BIA, such as probates and appraisals, have been shifted to OST. "Our annual funding agreements are with BIA and not the OST," she said.

"Self-governance is being dismantled by the changing processes by not allowing tribes to adapt as they see fit," she added. "As it is, changes are being forced upon tribes that we are told we must live with."

Members of Congress largely agreed with the tribal criticism. Rep. Richard Pombo (R-California), chairman of the committee, said the reorganization doesn't appear to address the core concerns of Indian Country -- more resources at the local level and speedier decision-making.

"Is it absolutely necessary to have this many steps to go through if somebody wants to get something approved?" he asked, referring to organizational charts presented by Swimmer and Aurene Martin, the principal deputy assistant secretary at the BIA.

"If you're going to go through all reorganization, let's get something out of it," he said. "I know we've got some very complicated and big issues ... but if we're going to go through all of this, let's change the system so that decisions get made."

The reorganization at the BIA's central office in Washington, D.C., is already complete. Martin said only four new positions were created, seeking to counteract tribal claims that the new structure is "top heavy."

The trust officers, who report to OST, and the deputy superintendents, who report to BIA, are being rolled out to Indian Country on a regional basis. The goal is to place them where more Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders are located -- Oklahoma, the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains are the first target areas. A trust officer from Oklahoma appeared at yesterday's hearing along with Swimmer and Martin.

At most BIA agencies, the deputy superintendent will not actually be a new hire. The agency's realty officer -- the person who handles land-into-trust requests -- will likely be promoted to the deputy superintendent position.

"Why do we need $100,000 a year positions at our agencies when we could better utilize the funding to hire appraisers, range techs, range conservationists [and] surveyors to better manager our lands and our assets?" questioned Frazier.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Anderson scheduled to testify on reorganization (5/11)
Johnson seeks investigation into OST expansion (05/07)
Pombo to hold hearing on BIA-OST reorganization (05/07)
Campbell says agencies afraid of helping tribes (04/30)
Senate panel hears conflicting views of reorganization (03/11)
Senate panel to hold hearing on BIA reorganization (2/26)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Fate of Indian preference in hands of Swimmer (02/04)
NCAI president uses speech to lobby for funding (01/22)
A wish list, and resolutions, for Dave Anderson (12/11)
Anderson finally receives nod to take over BIA (12/10)
Swimmer says reorganization is about 'simplicity' (12/05)
DOI holding 'to-be' meetings on trust reform (12/03)
Editorial: Reform DOI, not the trust responsibility (11/26)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Muscogee Nation seeks to disenroll citizen who leads rival Kialegee Tribal Town
DNA links present-day Pueblo populations to ancestral homeland at Mesa Verde
Supreme Court justice speaks at Trump hotel before hearing Trump travel ban
President Trump doubles down with defense of 'beautiful' Confederate symbols
Department of Justice invites more tribes to gain acccess to criminal databases
News21: Tribes fight for clean water and more funds from federal government
Tad Lemieux: Inuit community wins landmark court decision on consultation
Charles Kader: Another film trafficks in marginalized death in Indian Country
Peter d'Errico: Asserting sovereignty under the watchful eyes of domination
Secretary Zinke condemns White supremacists but vows 'support' for Trump
Muscogee Nation raids allotment and makes arrest in dispute over casino bid
Mississippi Choctaw citizens win court decision to put new casino to a vote
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation questions legality of new casino in Connecticut
Nez Perce Tribe shares $409,000 in gaming revenues for education programs
WNV: Puyallup Tribe enters battle against natural gas terminal in Washington
Mark Trahant: Learning from history to see why the Trump presidency is over
Harold Monteau: Donald Trump needs White supremacists to remain in office
Trump defends groups 'innocently' protesting removal of Confederate statue
New York Times turns to Native Americans for Conversation on Race project
Crow Tribe votes on potential changes to constitution despite court decision
Grand Traverse Band wasn't consulted about visit by Columbus replica ships
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate celebrates release of bald eagle that had been shot
Klamath Tribes break ground on hotel as part of long-term casino expansion
Wilton Rancheria continues to see litigation over casino project in California
Energy firm seeks to keep illegal pipeline in place over objections of landowners
North Dakota secures $10 million in federal funds to pay for #NoDAPL response
Arne Vainio: Tough patient turns out to be a warrior with a promise to his brother
Mary Annette Pember: True Sioux Hope Foundation brings donors to Pine Ridge
Steve Russell: Poverty in Indian Country -- and in America -- is really about race
Dakota Access Pipeline dragging out dispute over disturbance of tribal artifacts
Trump offers late rebuke to 'White supremacists' as industry leaders quit council
Seneca Nation citizen maintains 5-year protest against NFL team's racist legacy
Oneida Nation starts construction of third casino as outlet mall remains on hold
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still confident as Trump team reviews casino plan
Tribes report mixed results in slot machine revenues at casinos in Connecticut
Trump administration abandons tribes in battle over boundaries of reservation
Yurok Tribe forced to rely on outside salmon again as yearly festival approaches
Zenobia Jeffries: Media must be honest about planned race riot in Charlottesville
DVIDS: Military partnership brings health care to Round Valley Indian Reservation
Sandra LaFleur: Let's return to our traditions by restoring power to Native women
Harold Monteau: Democrats need to get their act together in new election season
Northern Arapaho Tribe reclaims remains of students who died at Carlisle school
Elouise Cobell's family brings Presidential Medal of Freedom to Blackfeet Nation
Department of Justice opens civil rights investigation into Charlottesville death
Muscogee Nation issues citizenship to former police officer accused of murder
Tim Giago: Broken treaties remain among America's deepest and darkest secrets
Oglala Sioux Tribe secures restitution for funds stolen by former district official
Appeals court schedules hearing in long-running Mechoopda Tribe gaming case
Pit boss and patron plead in blackjack scam at Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate casino
Doug Steiger: Reform the Indian Health Service by looking at tribal success stories
Young indigenous activist fights Trump administration in climate change lawsuit
Kialegee Tribal Town warned not to engage in gaming on allotment in Oklahoma
Mark Trahant: Prepare for a big mess when Congress returns to work in September
Cronkite News: Most Native families aren't speaking their own languages at home
Agua Caliente Band faces opposition from states as high court weighs water case
Crow Tribe mourns shooting victims as details remain scarce about triple homicide
Non-Indian man sentenced to life in prison for murder, assault on Crow Reservation
Aquinnah Wampanoag citizen aims to make history with Massachusetts campaign
Cherokee Nation ready to move forward with opioid lawsuit in tribal court system
Wiyot Tribe questions attempt to buy ancestral island that was site of massacre
Southern Ute Tribe offers $1 million matching grant for KSUT public radio station
Jim Cooper: Wilton Rancheria casino brings benefits to everyone in our community
Sara Trechter: County wastes more than $600,000 battling Mechoopda Tribe casino
Anticipation builds as Indian Country calls for shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline
Brian Lightfoot Brown: Welcome to the oldest recorded powwow in North America
Cronkite News: Backlogs at immigration courts reach a record high in Trump era
Mary Annette Pember: School offers safe place for girls on Pine Ridge Reservation
Alex Jacobs: Beware the new 'tribalism' in American politics with Donald Trump
>>> 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.