your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Indian employees to lose preference under Bush plan
Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Several dozen positions will lose their Indian preference status under a Bush administration consolidation, according to a new legal memo from the Department of Interior.

Special Trustee Ross Swimmer is considering transferring the unit that performs appraisals of Indian land to a new department-wide entity. He has been asking tribes to comment on the proposal.

A key issue is whether Indian preference, which calls for the recruiting and hiring of qualified American Indians and Alaska Natives, will still apply. The policy has been law since 1934 and has turned the Bureau of Indian Affairs from a nearly all-white organization to nearly all-Indian.

But as many as 67 Indian employees will no longer fall under the policy if the consolidation effort advances. In an October 23 memo, a Department of Interior attorney concluded that "preference would not apply" once the employees move to the new office.

Swimmer currently oversees the Office of Appraisal Services (OAS), which assigns values to trust lands owned by tribes and individual Indians. OAS used to be under the authority of the BIA but the Bush administration, in early 2002, stripped the BIA of the function amid concerns over the lack of independence of the appraisers. Swimmer did not initiate the transfer.

The transfer did not affect Indian preference because OAS was transferred intact, according to the memo from associate solicitor Hugo Teufel III. A shift within OST did not affect preference either, he added.

But the consolidation to a new departmental office is different, Teufel wrote. The office will be responsible for Indian and non-Indian lands, and the Indian appraisers will take on new duties, he said.

"On two prior occasions, the transfer of the OAS unit to a new unit constituted an intact transfer of the unit and its function, resulting in the continued application of Indian preference," he wrote. "But in this case . . . the functions of the positions would change."

Indian preference isn't the only sticking point under the consolidation. Since money for OAS comes from tribal priority allocation (TPA) funds, tribes are worried about the impact of losing this critical resource. The 2004 budget includes nearly $11 million for OAS.

Tribal leaders are still upset that former BIA assistant secretary Neal McCaleb gave up the appraisal function without consulting them. "It didn't make any sense to me to move it out of the BIA in the first place," said Clifford Lyle Marshall, the chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe of California, in an interview.

Marshall said the consolidation poses a real threat to economic development of Indian lands. "Appraisals are required for anything that we do with tribal property," he said. "Taking it out of the bureau . . . makes it extremely difficult for us to put housing on our reservations, put in infrastructure for water systems and power and lease property."

Tribes with self-governance and self-determination agreements also face unique challenges. It's harder to negotiate compacts and contracts with OST and nearly impossible to do so with other Interior agencies, according to tribal leaders. Moving appraisals to a department unit will complicate their efforts to take greater control of their affairs.

Finally, there is concern about the disparate appraisals of individually-held Indian lands. A recent court report from the special master in the Indian trust fund found that Navajo landowners in New Mexico failed to receive fair market value for use of their land. Private and even tribal owners received up to 20 times more based on appraisals from OAS.

Last week, Swimmer wrapped up a round of meetings on the appraisal consolidation. Tribal leaders complained they have not been properly informed about the changes. At the same time, the BIA was holding meetings about the ongoing reorganization.

Written comments on the consolidation are being accepted by the Office of Special Trustee until December 1. Swimmer extended a deadline published in an earlier Federal Register notice.

Relevant Documents:
Indian Preference Memo (October 23, 2003) | Federal Register: Tribal Consultation on Participation by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians in the Department of the Interior Consolidation of Agency Appraisal Functions (September 17, 2003)

Special Master Report:

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Office of Special Trustee -

Related Stories:
Navajo landowners question BIA agreement with company (10/21)
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization (10/09)
Consolidation plan advances at Interior (9/16)
Acting director named at DOI trust office (09/30)
Retaliation alleged in firing of trust fund manager (09/18)
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Whistle-blower warned DOI on Navajo land use (08/21)
Court master releases report on Navajo appraisals (8/20)
Navajo Nation homes to get telephone service (08/19)
Swimmer weighs consolidation of appraisals (8/15)
Norton admits Interior hid facts from Congress (7/24)
Navajo trust fund manager targeted in internal probe (07/15)
DOI employees falsified Navajo trust data (06/11)
Navajo leaders criticize upheaval at trust fund office (05/09)

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:
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
USDA policy eases return of traditional food to tribal facilities (11/24)
Sitka Tribe asks FBI to consider racial bias in student's arrest (11/24)
Court sides with Indian inmates over closure of sweat lodge (11/24)
Former employee accused of cheating Grand Traverse Band (11/24)
Tribes with special acts of Congress face hurdles for gaming (11/24)
Enterprise Rancheria addresses concerns about gaming site (11/24)
Mohegan Tribe signs partner for $5B casino proposal in Korea (11/24)
Bart Hinkle: States trying to protect their gaming monopolies (11/24)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Center for Native American Youth hires new executive director (11/23)
Quinault Nation slams approval of genetically modified salmon (11/23)
Native Sun News: Great Plains people key in defeating Keystone (11/23)
Lakota Country Times: Legal 'victory' for reservation residents (11/23)
Chuck Trimble: Book shares truth about genocide of our people (11/23)
Mark Trahant: Who will be a Barack Obama for Indian Country? (11/23)
James Giago Davies: The greatest evil facing our communities (11/23)
Jay Daniels: Mascot opponents take aim at beloved 'Sooners' (11/23)
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.