indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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:
SITE VISIT REPORT OF THE SPECIAL MASTER TO THE OFFICE OF APPRAISAL SERVICES IN GALLUP, NEW MEXICO AND THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS NAVAJO REALTY OFFICE IN WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA (August 20, 2003)

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

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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (8/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (8/27)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (8/27)
Three brothers on the ballot for Passamaquoddy Tribe election (8/27)
Daily Beast: Border Patrol runs free on Tohono O'odham Nation (8/27)
KTOO: Cook Inlet Tribe turns to video game to represent culture (8/27)
Former IHS information security officer convicted for child porn (8/27)
Crow Reservation murder defendant to make court appearance (8/27)
9th Circuit sets oral arguments in Big Lagoon Rancheria dispute (8/27)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe cuts gaming payment to state (8/27)
State raises concerns about Chumash Tribe's casino expansion (8/27)
Cowlitz Tribe sees setback in infrastructure plan for casino site (8/27)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on Air Force over expansion plan (8/26)
Charles Trimble: Pine Ridge -- the Hollywood of Indian Country (8/26)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois on both sides for War of 1812 (8/26)
Heather Kendall-Miller: GOP candidate a threat to Native rights (8/26)
Fired Oglala Sioux Tribe police officer indicted for taser incident (8/26)
Sen. Jon Tester to hold session on trafficking in Indian Country (8/26)
Hoopa Valley Tribe takes action due to large number of arsons (8/26)
Non-recognized tribe in Texas hails ruling in eagle feather case (8/26)
Jodi Lee Spotted Bear: Supporting Native language immersion (8/26)
Proposal filed for Wampanoag language public charter school (8/26)
Gila River Indian Community mourns loss of first female leader (8/26)
Jose Barreiro: Indigenous leaders hold historic meeting in Cuba (8/26)
Tribes use reservations to restore rare and endangered species (8/26)
Rival factions unite in takeover attempt within Chukchansi Tribe (8/26)
Darlene Miller seeks to be first female Seneca Nation president (8/26)
7th Circuit bars tribal jurisdiction in Indian payday loan dispute (8/26)
Law school in Colorado sets conference on sovereign immunity (8/26)
Mississippi Choctaw family believes same person behind deaths (8/26)
Cherokee Nation to break ground on casino on Indian allotment (8/26)
Stillaguamish Tribe finally secures reservation status for casino (8/26)
Mashantucket Tribe to open retail concourse at casino on Friday (8/26)
Opinion: Predatory gaming companies exploit tribes and patrons (8/26)
Caesars Entertainment debuts $442M urban casino in Baltimore (8/26)
Tim Giago: Farewell to my childhood friend Eugene Long Soldier (8/25)
Mark Trahant: Tapping the power of social media for Native vote (8/25)
Native Sun News: Laguna Pueblo still affected by uranium mine (8/25)
Oliver Semans: Seeing the light on Native voting rights struggle (8/25)
John Hopkins: Navajo Nation Council delegate makes bad choice (8/25)
James Mills: Non-Indian firm helps tribes create stronger nations (8/25)
Navajo voters to narrow field of 17 candidates for president's job (8/25)
Judge Humetewa hands down sentence in Indian child abuse case (8/25)
Scientists publish lengthy book based on study of Kennewick Man (8/25)
Rival tribe spends big in fight over Tohono O'odham Nation casino (8/25)
Eastern Cherokees resist Catawba Nation casino in North Carolina (8/25)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe seeking investors for Class II facility (8/25)
WUWM: Menominee Nation still waiting for off-reservation casino (8/25)
Editorial: Vote on Enterprise Rancheria Class III gaming compact (8/25)
Native Sun News: Indian farmers question Keepseagle attorneys (8/22)
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.