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
Sovereignty and E-Commerce:  Innovating and Reshaping the  Borders of Indian Country - Arizona State University Third Annual Tribal Government E-Commerce CLE Conference
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:
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe continues to battle pipeline in court (3/28)
Native Sun News Today: Trump purge fails to affect South Dakota (3/28)
Victor Swallow: When the Air Force bomber crashed at Pine Ridge (3/28)
Charles Kader: Courts close their doors to unrecognized groups (3/28)
Whiteclay liquor licenses under review amid outcry in Nebraska (3/28)
Cowlitz Tribe brings Michael Jordan's Steakhouse to new casino (3/28)
Colville Tribes hail 'historic victory' on aboriginal hunting rights (3/27)
Dakota Access confirms pipeline about to go into service with oil (3/27)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs considers new round of bills (3/27)
Witness list for hearing on diabetes prevention and Native youth (3/27)
Tim Giago: There's a smell of treason in the air in nation's capital (3/27)
Mark Trahant: The fight ahead for the future of Indian health care (3/27)
Bill John Baker: Woman play important roles in Cherokee Nation (3/27)
Brian Lightfoot Brown: One last victory for the Narragansett Tribe (3/27)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe questions loss of funds (3/27)
James Giago Davies: Troubled times are coming to Lakota country (3/27)
Sarah Van Gelder: Huge bank divests from Dakota Access Pipeline (3/27)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation hails decision on aging power plant (3/27)
Tiffany Midge: There's a happy ending for Standing Rock out there (3/27)
Steven Newcomb: Getting to the true meaning of our sovereignty (3/27)
Steve Russell: Losing our status as 'domestic dependent nations' (3/27)
Mona Evans: Creek Nation fails to support Indian Child Welfare Act (3/27)
Oklahoma Democrats hire LaRenda Morgan as first Native liaison (3/27)
Chukchansi Tribe fires back at gaming firm seeking $21M in court (3/27)
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
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.