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DOI budget bill includes self-governance project
Friday, October 31, 2003

The Department of Interior budget bill approved by the House on Thursday includes a trust fund demonstration project to support self-governance tribes.

The provision shields self-governance tribes from the ongoing reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the expansion of the Office of Special Trustee. The tribes have already developed their own systems for the management of trust assets, and they worry the changes will negatively impact them.

Section 139 ensures the funding agreements with self-governance tribes will not be upset by the reorganization. It applies to the California Tribal Trust Reform Consortium, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation and the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana.

An earlier version of the rider contained only in the Senate version of the bill applied to "any other participating tribe having a self-governance compact." But after negotiations with the House, the language was restricted to the above tribes.

The section, in its entirety, states:
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 on the same basis as funds were distributed in fiscal year 2003. This 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 above referenced tribes 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: Provided, That the California Trust Reform Consortium and any other participating tribe agree to carry out their responsibilites under the same fiduciary standards as those to which the Secretary of the Interior is held: Provided further, That they demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary that they have the capability to do so.

Conference Committee Report:
House Report. 108-330 | PDF Version

Related Stories:
House chairman supports self-governance rider (10/14)
Tribal leaders assail reorganization (10/10)
House panel takes testimony on self-governance (10/8)

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