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
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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribal college geologist tackles uranium mine (1/30)
James Giago Davies: Let's hurry up and hate the Muslim people (1/30)
Luis Alejo: Apologize to the Chumash Tribe for 'hurtful' remarks (1/30)
Mark Anthony Rolo: Declaration of war against Keystone Pipeline (1/30)
Senate passes bill to approve controversial Keystone XL Pipeline (1/30)
DOI signs land buy-back cooperative agreements with two tribes (1/30)
Company claims harassment after racial incident at hockey game (1/30)
Quapaw Tribe interested in cultivating marijuana for medical uses (1/30)
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes declare war on methamphetamine (1/30)
Lawmakers introduce bill to allow Miami Nation to revoke charter (1/30)
Chairman of Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe resigns after seven years (1/30)
Another guilty conviction and indictment for Chippewa Cree Tribe (1/30)
Warm Springs Tribes play host to unmanned drone test grounds (1/30)
Eastern Cherokees still working to improve dangerous highway (1/30)
Key lawmakers remain opposed to Yucca Mountain nuclear site (1/30)
Kootenai Tribe: The truth about the regulation of Indian gaming (1/30)
Mike Hoeft: Bingo games brought Oneida Nation together again (1/30)
Menominee Nation won't give up on off-reservation gaming plan (1/30)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approves casino market study (1/30)
Seminole Tribe wins preliminary approval for New Jersey gaming (1/30)
Native Sun News: Alcohol a common factor in Rapid City murders (1/29)
Ivan Star: Ignoring alcoholism leads to destruction of the Lakota (1/29)
John Barrasso: Empowering Indian Country in the GOP Congress (1/29)
Criminal charges possible over mistreatment of Indian students (1/29)
Seneca Nation doesn't foresee taking action on legal marijuana (1/29)
Elderly member of Colville Tribes seriously injured in hit and run (1/29)
Fifteen charged over theft of Yakama Nation scholarship money (1/29)
Judge orders self-proclaimed 'shaman' back to custody in Texas (1/29)
Nevada City Rancheria objects to leasing of land to another tribe (1/29)
Mississippi Choctaws to hold grand opening for new $55M hospital (1/29)
Opinion: Celebrate the Native origin of the Seattle Seahawks logo (1/29)
First Nations Experience to grow with $6M from San Manuel Band (1/29)
Governor won't rethink Menominee Nation off-reservation casino (1/29)
Cayuga Nation back in court to defend Class II gaming operation (1/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in revenue at gaming enterprise (1/29)
Gaming machines at non-Indian tracks stir controversy in Idaho (1/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes ask Obama to deny Keystone XL permit (1/28)
Native Sun News: Native youth take stand against Keystone bid (1/28)
Tara Houska: Respect treaties and reject Keystone XL Pipeline (1/28)
Mark Trahant: Obama administration steps up for environment (1/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds first meeting & hearing (1/28)
House committee won't restore Indian and Alaska Native panel (1/28)
Opinion: Affordable Care Act offers behavorial health services (1/28)
Sami Jo Difuntorum: Support needed for Indian housing update (1/28)
Albert Bender: Stop glorification of Indian killer Andrew Jackson (1/28)
Amanda Blackhorse: Navajo leader defends racist NFL mascot (1/28)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Our kids should be able to go anywhere (1/28)
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.