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
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization
Thursday, October 9, 2003

The Bush administration's reorganization efforts threaten to set back years of progress on self-governance, tribal leaders said on Wednesday.

Before a hearing of the House Resources Committee, leaders of tribes who have successfully taken over programs formerly managed by the federal government expressed some of their fears. They said changes at the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will limit their ability to assert greater control over their affairs.

"We know our people best," testified Melanie Benjamin, executive director for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe from Minnesota. "We know what their needs are."

In their remarks, Benjamin and other witnesses on the panel targeted the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the expansion of the Office of Special Trustee (OST) and the consolidation at the Indian Health Service (IHS). Bush administration officials say their efforts at these agencies will improve services to Native Americans.

Benjamin disputed the assertion and said the changes will only benefit bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. She characterized the IHS consolidation as the downsizing of an agency whose funds have not grown with inflation.

And any boosts in federal funding will not trickle down to Indian Country, she argued. While the BIA's budget has more than doubled in the past decade or so, her tribe's self-governance budget has increased only 35 percent the during the same period, she said.

Clifford Lyle Marshall, chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe of California, said the initiatives will add levels of confusion. "Self-governance is an experiment in dialogue, an experiment in negotiation," he told the committee. "We cut the middleman out, the bureaucracy out."

But with the reorganization, "DOI is planning to take us all the way back to a system that existed before self-governance," he asserted. "They're proposing to design the program for us, they're going to set the standards, the processes and procedures and they're going to fund the program by taking money off the top of tribal program funding."

Jacob Moore, a special assistant for congressional and legislative affairs for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona, said the administration's trust reform proposals fail to take into account self-governance. He said tribes have "met and often times exceeded the level of trust accountability practiced" by Interior.

"We need to ensure that the embodiment of self-governance is not diminished," he testified.

Officials with the the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana warned that the Interior's reorganization will make it harder for everyone to contract and compact programs. "The beauty of self-governance is that it gives us the flexibility to design programs that meet the needs of individual tribes," he said.

Anna Whiting Sorrell, the tribe's director for support services, said BIA's trust functions are slowly being stripped away and handed to OST. "As they separate out from one program to another, it's going to force us to renegotiate [agreements] under stricter guidelines. It really allows the federal government to centralize those services, not the tribes," she said.

The tribal representatives called on Congress to give clear direction to DOI and HHS. They said the agencies should ensure that the self-governance is not negatively impacted by the ongoing changes.

They also backed a special demonstration program authorized in the Senate's version of the appropriations bill that funds both DOI and HHS. Known as Section 134, the tribes said it would shield self-governance from trust reform's side effects.

The section applies to tribes with valid self-governance compacts and to the California Tribal Trust Reform Consortium, to which the Hoopa Valley Tribe and others in the state belong. It states that Interior "shall not impose its trust management infrastructure upon or alter the existing trust resource management systems" the tribes have in place.

The House version of the budget bill does not include the measure. Tribal leaders said they were hopeful an agreement would be worked out in the conference committee that is finalizing the bill.

The full text of Section 134 reads:
Notwithstanding any implementation of the Department of the Interior's trust reorganization plan within fiscal years 2003 or 2004, funds appropriated for fiscal year 2004 shall be available to the tribes within the California Tribal Trust Reform Consortium and to the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation and the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boys Reservation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Regional offices that serve them, on the same basis as funds were distributed in fiscal year 2003. The Demonstration Project shall operate separate and apart from the Department of the Interior's trust reform reorganization, and the Department shall not impose its trust management infrastructure upon or alter the existing trust resource management systems of the California Trust Reform Consortium and any other participating tribe having a self-governance compact and operating in accordance with the Tribal Self-Governance Program set forth in 25 U.S.C. Sections 458aa-458hh

DOI Budget Bills:
H.R.2691 | H.Rept.108-195 | S.1391 | S.Rept.108-89

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

Related Stories:
Lamberth lays out future of Indian trust reform (09/26)
Senate approves $20 billion DOI budget bill (9/24)
Consolidation plan advances at Interior (9/16)
Swimmer weighs consolidation of appraisals (8/15)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Trust fund provision stripped from House bill (7/15)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
NCAI's Hall stands by trust reform testimony (5/28)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Reorganization: Meet the 'new' BIA (04/30)
DOI begins second transition period on Indian affairs (04/29)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe calls Trump team for help on eve of Thanksgiving
Native Sun News Today: Tribal culture and poetry inspires new collaboration
Kevin Gover: Dispelling five myths about Native American history and culture
College football player from Seminole Tribe makes history with 1st touchdown
Swinomish Tribe celebrates grand opening of substance abuse treatment center
Law school casebook links gun culture in America to early dealings with tribes
Seneca Nation enters arbitration with New York over revenue sharing dispute
Native Sun News Today: Lakota Sewing Circle fosters a sense of community
David Ganje: Water a major issue as company eyes uranium mine in Black Hills
Final push is on to find Indian beneficiaries owed money from Cobell settlement
Secretary Zinke under renewed scrutiny for travel practices and role of spouse
Navajo Nation gains access to national criminal data with Obama-era program
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe marijuana consultant 'free' after state sentence
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation clashes with state over 'bingo' machines
Redding Rancheria faces opposition to move of casino amid changes in D.C.
Pokagon Band debuts police station to service site of new casino in Indiana
Wiconi Un Tipi Camp rises to fight back against another controversial pipeline
Indian Country vows battle after final Keystone XL Pipeline route is approved
FBI offers reward in case of man from Crow Tribe who went missing years ago
Harold Frazier: Don't believe them when they tell you their pipelines won't spill
Mark Trahant: Indian Country isn't valued as lawmakers move on tax reform bill
Rep. Tom Cole: Tribes are improving the lives of their people and their neighbors
Albert Bender: Indigenous community in Nashville honors warrior Dennis Banks
Native Sun News Today: Touting food sovereignty with Pine Ridge bison harvest
James Giago Davies: We are all writing to be brilliant for that one perfect person
Cronkite News: Domestic violence remains a deadly probably for Native people
DVIDS: Native community shares culture with Air Force base in South Dakota
Newspaper apologizes to Mississippi Choctaws for story on casino referendum
Ponca Tribe returns to Indian gaming industry with Chickasaw Nation as partner
Bad River Band demands federal investigation into fatal shooting of 14-year-old
Tribes see opening under Trump to reshape agency that targets lending industry
Native Sun News Today: Lakota mother fights to keep her daughter's dream alive
Victor Swallow: Historic store was a vibrant part of the Oglala Sioux community
Gyasi Ross: Native child gunned down by police officer on his own homelands
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate concerned about spill of oil from Keystone Pipeline
Mississippi Choctaws hail vote against new casino as they await official tally
Tribes still in the dark as Trump administration moves to roll back Bears Ears
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds tribal water rights hearing to schedule
Albert Bender: The original genocide continues with the Dakota Access Pipeline
Native Sun News Today: Tribal activists renew fight against Keystone XL Pipeline
Ivan Star Comes Out: We should be asking ourselves 'What's next?' at Whiteclay
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe distances film from Hollywood producer accused of assault
Morongo Band distributes 10,000 turkeys in annual tradition for Thanksgiving
Chemehuevi Tribe expects to complete work on second gaming facility in 2019
Tribes report mixed slot machine returns as they press Trump team on casino
Ponca Tribe secures victory in long-running battle over restoration of homelands
Winnebago Tribe asserts self-determination in hopes of fixing troubled hospital
Comanche Nation sees setback in effort to stop new Chickasaw Nation casino
Alaska Native corporation welcomes action on bill to open lands to development
Doug George-Kanentiio: Thanksgiving represents an indigenous gift to the world
Mark Trahant: Republicans target health care and education to pay for tax cuts
Native Sun News Today: Military service inspires Lakota veteran to bring change
ProPublica: Trump appointee resigns after report on troubled Indian loan program
Bill to end discrimination against indigenous women closer to passage in Canada
Quapaw Tribe calls for resignation of vice chairman following criminal indictment
Senior Trump administration official resigns after scrutiny of Indian loan program
Bureau of Indian Affairs makes changes to loan guarantee program amid scrutiny
Arne Vainio: For over 50 years, I blamed myself for my father's death by suicide
Secretary Zinke among those excited to take part in #RockYourMocs this year
>>> 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.