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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Another week goes by without decision in tribal jurisdiction case (5/31)
Field hearing in South Dakota on Indian Health Service reform bill (5/31)
Supreme Court won't hear long-running Seneca Nation land case (5/31)
Native Sun News: Longtime Indian Health Service staff reassigned (5/31)
Lakota Country Times: Native newspaper brings home 14 awards (5/31)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our language doesn't need 'expert' approval (5/31)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne show love for commod cheese (5/31)
Editorial: Newspaper continues to grow and reach Native readers (5/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Rosebud Sioux Tribe battles meth epidemic (5/31)
Ruth Hopkins: Elizabeth Warren is counting coup on Donald Trump (5/31)
Debra Haaland: Donald Trump mocks Native people and our history (5/31)
Harlan McKosato: Let's conduct new poll on the racist NFL mascot (5/31)
Raymond Foxworth: Tribal opposition to racist names still matters (5/31)
Steven Newcomb: Original nations pushed to accept lower status (5/31)
Mike Myers: Roadblocks to true self-governance in Indian Country (5/31)
Carly McIntosh: A real live study on the use of medical marijuana (5/31)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about anti-casino lawsuit (5/31)
Ak-Chin Indian Community reacts to measles exposure at casino (5/31)
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
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.