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
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...

Latest Headlines:

Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed to New Mexico for hearing
House committee again leaves out Indian Country in hearing on Interior
Mark Maxey: Oklahoma tries to crush Native protesters with new law
Carletta Tilousi: Havasupai Tribe threatened by uranium development
Opinion: Economic development for Indian Country in upcoming farm bill
Government worker suspended after calling Native principal a 'rabid s----'
Kiowa citizen Tristan Ahtone to report on tribes for High Country News
New York Times features Dina Gilio-Whitaker in editorial on health care
Tribes break ground on monument to their history in Virginia's capitol
Warm Springs Tribes battle large wildfire that broke out behind casino
Spokane Tribe casino doesn't bother Air Force despite claims in lawsuit
Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waits on casino ruling from Trump team
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot
Change the Mascot campaign responds to negative Supreme Court ruling
Secretary Zinke set for another hearing on Interior Department budget
Mark Trahant: Republicans write health reform bill behind closed doors
Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater
Steven Newcomb: Asserting our traditions in the era of 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.