indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
White House acts to fill top BIA leadership post
Monday, September 15, 2003

The Bush administration on Friday announced its intention to nominate David Anderson, an Ojibwe businessman, as head of the Bureau of Indian Afairs, nearly a year after his predecessor said he was leaving office due to a contentious and litigious environment.

In making the announcement, officials played up Anderson's business -- rather than political -- background. A member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe in Wisconsin, Anderson is more commonly known as "Famous Dave," after the publicly-traded chain of barbecue restaurants he founded. The company reported revenues of $90.8 million last year.

The administration also said Anderson has a long history with Indian issues, noting $6 million in donations he has made to Indian causes. He was recently recognized by Oprah Winfrey's "Angel Network" for his efforts to help Native children, including the $1.4 million YouthSkills Foundation he created in 1999.

But to some in Indian Country, Anderson and his achievements draw a blank. Even though his name was mentioned numerous times in recent months as the possible assistant secretary nominee, tribal leaders were hard-pressed to understand why he was even being considered.

"There are some very qualified people out there," said John Gonzales, Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico. "I have no idea where people like [former assistant secretary] Neal McCaleb came from or [acting BIA head] Aurene Martin or, now, David Anderson. I've been involved in Indian Country affairs for some time now and sometimes I wonder where where they find certain people to serve in these positions."

Regardless of the choice, the fact that it took so long for the White House to make its move bothered tribal leaders. To leave the BIA without a leader while the agency undergoes a top-to-bottom reorganization in an attempt to fix the broken Indian trust was troublesome, they said.

Trust reform was the reason Neal McCaleb, a former Oklahoma state Cabinet official, announced his resignation last November and left a month later. He was under pressure from a federal judge who labeled him and Secretary of Interior Gale Norton "unfit" to manage the money belonging to hundreds of thousands of American Indians. The case alleges that up to $176 billion in funds and interest remains unaccounted since 1887.

Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest inter-tribal organization, said trust will be one of the biggest challenge facing Anderson. "The weakness is that he doesn't have the experience of trust, of administering trust management and adhering to the trust responsibility," he said.

But the other major issue, Hall added, is improving economic conditions for more than 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. "The real question is the character and the commitment and the other experiences that he would provide," Hall said. "Obviously, he's a self-made individual so economic development would be important. I would really like to ask him what his plans are [in this area]. I think Indian Country has been clamoring for economic development."

In a statement, Anderson said he was "deeply honored at the prospect of being nominated as Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Indian Affairs. I welcome the opportunity to work closely with the American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs."

Anderson's "innovative leadership and dedication to constant improvement," will be an asset to the BIA, said Norton in a statement. "His inspiring vision, proven management expertise and compassion for Indian issues will help us in our efforts to improve the quality of services we provide to Indian Country."

Aurene Martin has been serving as acting assistant secretary, hand-picked by Norton. She was angling for the permanent nomination, Republican sources said, but was not among the final candidates for the job.

Anderson's name still has to be submitted to the Senate for approval. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee would have to hold a confirmation hearing. Typically, a BIA nominee, regardless of party affiliation, receives unanimous support from the panel.

Anderson is currently serving as chairman of the board of directors of Famous Dave's of America. In a statement, CEO David Goronkin said Anderson would step down from his capacities with the company if confirmed.

Relevant Documents:
DOI Press Release: Secretary Norton Praises President's Intention to Nominate David Anderson as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (September 12, 2003) | Famous Dave's Statement (September 12, 2003) | White House News: Personnel Announcement (September 12, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Famous Daves - http://www.famousdaves.com
LifeSkills Center for Leadership - http://www.lifeskills-center.org
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org/index.asp
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

Related Stories:
Lack of BIA nominee puzzles Indian Country (08/07)
BIA's Martin breaks unofficial boycott of NCAI (06/17)
DOI begins second transition period on Indian affairs (04/29)
Bunker mentality evident in trust reform fight (04/22)
White House asked to bring DOI to the table (02/25)
McCaleb latest in long line of DOI departures (11/25)
McCaleb changed, yes, but little else did (11/22)
McCaleb resigning from BIA (11/22)
How to Mismanage Indian Trust Assets Without Really Trying (08/07)
Feathers ruffled in and out of Indian Country (07/31)
Key trust reform player leaving BIA (02/28)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Chair of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe blasts report (1/27)
Native Sun News: Lummi Nation eyes halt to coal export project (1/27)
House Natural Resources Committee set to hold first meeting (1/27)
First-ever conference to focus on marijuana in Indian Country (1/27)
Fort Peck Tribes moving towards full legalization of marijuana (1/27)
8th Circuit rules against Indian inmate in religious rights case (1/27)
Jennifer Denetdale: Film glosses over violence in border towns (1/27)
Isadore Boni: An Apache AIDS survivor completes first marathon (1/27)
Osage Nation expects to see $7.4M in Cobell consolidation offers (1/27)
The Atlantic: Native people wary of DNA tests and genetic studies (1/27)
Morongo Band to debut first tribally-owned Taco Bell next week (1/27)
County files appeal over Chumash Tribe land-into-trust decision (1/27)
City leaders to work closely with Shakopee Tribe on road project (1/27)
Miccosukee Tribe wins decision in dispute over fees paid to court (1/27)
Senate Democrats delay vote on Keystone XL Pipeline measure (1/27)
Editorial: Wildlife refuge in Alaska deserves stronger protections (1/27)
BIA questions provision in compact for some New Mexico tribes (1/27)
Seminole Tribe still interested in opening casino in Atlantic City (1/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation's gaming compact authorizes another facility (1/27)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes name executive for gaming operation (1/27)
Editorial: Presidential politics derailed off-reservation casino bid (1/27)
Native Sun News: North Dakota takes on impacts of energy boom (1/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux man calls on US to honor its word (1/26)
GOP leader outlines agenda for Senate Indian Affairs Committee (1/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's first hearing (1/26)
Supreme Court orders another decision in Indian inmates' case (1/26)
Brandon Ecoffey: Major issues ignored in State of Indian Nations (1/26)
Steven Newcomb: Supreme Court decision influenced by religion (1/26)
Mateo Romero: Era of white American male rule coming to an end (1/26)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation mourns passing of Gary Mitchell (1/26)
Officer accused of using Taser on 2 boys in Alaska Native village (1/26)
Navajo Nation Council delegate does double duty as metalhead (1/26)
Editorial: Alaska tribe makes tough decision to banish bad actors (1/26)
Opinion: Wealthy tribes shouldn't follow land-into-trust process (1/26)
Obama to seek stronger protections for wildlife refuge in Alaska (1/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation remains hopeful on off-reservation casino bid (1/26)
Chukchansi Tribe comes together in hopes of reopening casino (1/26)
Bois Forte Band reports six percent drop in revenues at casino (1/26)
Washington tribes can add more machines with new casino deal (1/26)
Editorial: Battle against Poarch Creek casinos is a waste of time (1/26)
Native Sun News: Montana basketball legend gives back to youth (1/23)
Mark Trahant: Building the new digital economy in Indian Country (1/23)
James Giago Davies: Washington team insults the first Americans (1/23)
Gyasi Ross: Indian Country can't get enough of Seattle Seahawks (1/23)
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.