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
Falmouth Institute Online Training
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
DOI to ask tribes about Indian land appraisals
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Already in the midst of one reorganization, the Bush administration is moving forward with plans to strip the Office of Special Trustee (OST) of its appraisal program.

According to a Federal Register notice to be published this week, OST will consult with tribes on how to move forward. Only three consultation meetings -- including one to be held next week -- are scheduled, in addition to a public comment period that will end November 7.

The move is part of a department-wide effort to create a single unit to handle appraisals of all federal lands. Secretary Gale Norton announced the proposal in June, responding to decades of criticism about the lack of independence among appraisers. She was also spurred by high-profile controversies about the undervaluation of federal lands.

At the time, the Indian land appraisal program wasn't up for consolidation. But according to the notice, a task force of department officials has decided "that it would be in the best interest" of OST to join forces with other Interior agencies.

Special trustee Ross Swimmer, a Bush appointee, is heading up the campaign. In an interview last month, he said the proposal has several benefits, including more accurate appraisals of lands owned by tribes and individual Indians.

The legal status of trust lands raises unique issues that will be considered at the consultation meetings. One is how consolidation would impact tribes who compact or contract the appraisal function.

There's also the question of Indian preference, the policy of recruiting and hiring qualified Alaska Natives and American Indians. Currently, only the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and parts of the OST are subject to the policy.

"It's an issue that is on the table," Swimmer said in the interview last month. "I don't know if it would or not. If it became part of the reorganization, I'm not sure that [Indian preference] is applicable."

Some Indian program positions are already losing their preference status due to the ongoing reorganization of BIA and expansion of OST. A memo from a Department of Interior solicitor reversed long-standing policy about the applicability of the policy. Swimmer's staff has requested another legal opinion on the topic.

In 2002, the Bush administration stripped BIA of its authority over the appraisal program and gave it to OST. Officials, at the time, expressed concerns about the lack of independence of BIA appraisers.

But tribal leaders were upset at the change, which came at the height of their opposition to BITAM. They also weren't consulted, and have a long-standing request to reverse the decision.

The shakeup, like the consolidation now under review, was pitched as means to improve services. But some in Indian Country say they haven't noticed any benefits.

"I haven't seen the results of that yet," said Irvin Chavez, president of the Shi Shi Keyah Association, a group of Navajo landowners in northern New Mexico.

The appraisal program recently came under fire in a report from a court investigator in the Indian trust fund lawsuit. According to special master Alan Balaran, BIA appraisers allowed Navajo-owned lands to be used by oil and gas companies for less than market value.

"This has been going on for many many years," said Chavez.

The OST consolidation meetings will take place September 24 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and October 28 at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. They will coincide with BIA reorganization meetings being held in Tulsa from September 24-25 and in Las Vegas from October 27-30.

Relevant Documents:
DOI Appraisal Letter; Federal Register Notice (September 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov

Related Stories:
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Court master releases report on Navajo appraisals (8/20)
Swimmer weighs consolidation of appraisals (8/15)
Navajo trust fund manager targeted in internal probe (07/15)
Indian employees challenging DOI reorganization (06/03)
Navajo leaders criticize upheaval at trust fund office (05/09)
Confusion detailed at Interior (10/16)
DOI land swap program to be reviewed (10/11)
Norton land deal subject of dispute (10/01)
DOI approved $100M land 'giveaway' (8/19)

Copyright © 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala student makes name as young writer (4/23)
Mark Trahant: Budget predictions at the Indian Health Service (4/23)
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides in Washington (4/23)
Steve Russell: Indians often seen an obstacle to government (4/23)
Malcolm Benally: Some Navajo leaders clueless on mascots (4/23)
Supreme Court allows ban on affirmative action in Michigan (4/23)
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
DOI Secretary Sally Jewell delivers keynote at tribal summit (4/22)
DOI Deputy Secretary Mike Connor hosts Earth Day webchat (4/22)
Winona LaDuke: Tribes won't see benefits from Keystone XL (4/22)
Photos: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides to National Mall in DC (4/22)
Alray Nelson: Bring marriage equality to the Navajo Nation (4/22)
Steven Newcomb: UNDRIP falls into domination framework (4/22)
DaShanne Stokes: 'Indian' mascots carry harmful impacts (4/22)
Wendell George: Little Joe connects with his tribal heritage (4/22)
Peter Twitchell: Stop passing the buck on our Yup'ik culture (4/22)
Murray Sinclair: Effects of residential school era will linger (4/22)
Wyoming tribes share per cap from $157M trust settlement (4/22)
Navajo Nation Council reconsiders higher tax on junk foods (4/22)
Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle set to retire after 17 years (4/22)
Opinion: Maps represent destruction of Native people in US (4/22)
Oneida Nation to host PGA championship at resort in 2016 (4/22)
Blog: Climate change impacts Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (4/22)
Supreme Court holding onto ruling in Bay Mills casino case (4/22)
Paskenta Band says leadership issues won't affect casino (4/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe on track with casino hotel (4/22)
Deadline approaches for commercial casinos in New York (4/22)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline foes headed to DC (4/21)
Native Sun News: Shoni Schimmel is a role model for youth (4/21)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on energy (4/21)
Supreme Court takes no action on Indian tobacco petition (4/21)
Linda Capps: Citizen Potawatomi Nation is a good neighbor (4/21)
Bryan Brewer: Supreme Court discriminates against tribes (4/21)
Michell Hicks: Eastern Cherokees return to gardening roots (4/21)
Lisa Charleyboy: Still looking for love under the Indian Act (4/21)
Kiara Imani Williams: Tribal ID dismissed in nation's capital (4/21)
Henry Louis Gates: The myth of African and Indian ancestry (4/21)
DOI looks to spend $2.55M on Makah Nation land buy-back (4/21)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe faces a test of jurisdiction under VAWA (4/21)
State Department needs more time to review Keystone XL (4/21)
Fracking trucks take water from North Dakota reservation (4/21)
Lens Blog: An Indian from India meets Indians from the US (4/21)
Alaska Legislature passes Native language recognition bill (4/21)
Alaska Natives seek return of property for museum at Yale (4/21)
Opinion: Double standard in treatment of Shoshone sisters (4/21)
Column: Frank Waln blends Native traditions with hip-hop (4/21)
Native man's murder trial delayed due to jury roll problem (4/21)
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.