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
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Tribes and Bush administration still apart on trust
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Two years ago this month, Bush administration officials came to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) to talk about the trust fund debacle. Tribes responded with fury, anger and opposition.

At the 60th annual NCAI convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week, there were plenty of similar sentiments. Delegates said they still feel they are being excluded from efforts to fix the broken system. They still oppose the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other proposals they say were developed without their input.

But the overall feeling that emerged at a session yesterday seemed to be one of exhaustion. Several who attended said they had all but given up on making their voices heard.

"Obviously tribes are frustrated as they feel their suggestions regarding trust reform have fallen on deaf ears," said Geri Small, the president of Montana's Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Small was a member of the tribal-federal task force that sought to develop solutions but fell apart amid several disagreements in the fall of 2002.

Currently, the BIA and the Office of Special Trustee (OST) are holding meetings around the country to discuss the reorganization, a major overhaul of trust practices known as the "to-be" project and a proposed consolidation of Indian land appraisals.

Some who attended those meetings said they have not been productive. Not enough information was provided to enable tribes to understand what is happening or to establish meaningful dialogue about the changes.

"It was a waste of time," said Fred Auck, chairman of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho.

Gary Morishima, a representative of the Inter-Tribal Timber Council who was a technical advisor to the defunct task force, said BIA and OST did not come prepared to the meetings. It is unrealistic to expect tribes to be able to provide responses about the "to-be" project when that happens, he said.

Special trustee Ross Swimmer, a Bush political appointee, attended the session to give his views on trust reform. He sought to dispel what he said was misinformation about the federal budget, which tribes contend has been gutted to pay for the government's mistakes, and his own personal agenda.

"There are things that are hard to kill in Indian Country and that's rumor," he said.

The Bush administration isn't out to dismantle the tribal-federal relationship, he said. Tribes complain that OST, which he heads, is taking away program dollars from the BIA.

"There is no feeling that we are diminishing the trust responsibility," he said.

The proposal to consolidate Indian appraisals hasn't convinced tribes otherwise. Their worries center on Indian preference, tribal priority allocation (TPA) dollars and compacting and contracting.

NCAI President Tex Hall challenged Swimmer to adopt a preference policy at OST. He said the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 applies to all Indian programs, not just the BIA.

"We support Indian preference. We don't have a legal responsibility as in the BIA, which has been been interpreted in some instances to be almost an 'Indian-only' policy," he responded. "I will not say that we [at OST] will go that far."

When pressed to explain why BIA's policy is different, he responded: "[acting assistant secretary] Aurene [Martin] doesn't have a choice."

Swimmer confirmed that Indian preference will not apply if the appraisal consolidation goes through as planned. He said that about 40 employees are affected. The Indian employees' union estimates that up to 67 positions will lose preference.

Currently, appraisals are handled out of OST but the money still comes out of the BIA budget, specifically, the TPA line item of $11 million. Lena Belcourt, the legislative analyst for the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana, said the appraisal consolidation hurts self-determination and self-governance.

"Bottom line -- show me the money," noted Chippewa Cree Chairman Alvin Windy Boy, expressing his once-common refrain during the task force process.

Tim Martin, the executive director of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), urged attendees of the session not to give up. Provide written comments to the BIA and OST, attend their meetings and try to work out a plan, he said.

But not everyone was convinced that would work. "It's just like 100 years ago," said Mel Tonasket, a council member for the Colville Tribes of Washington. "Send an agent to the Indians. Agent Ross Swimmer."

The comment period for the appraisal consolidation will end December 1. Swimmer said he hopes to make a final decision by early 2004.

The "to-be" project will be releasing a CD-ROM early next month. It is a lengthy document that will take some time to go through, said Daryll LaCounte, the director of BIA's trust re-engineering. "We need your input, we absolutely have to have it," he said.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Editorial: Indian Country's Ugly Baby (11/05)
Indian employees to lose preference under Bush plan (11/04)
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization (10/09)
Consolidation plan advances at Interior (9/16)

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:
Girls basketball team proudly wears Navajo hairstyle during game (2/8)
National Indian Gaming Commission slated to get a third member (2/8)
Senate committee to host roundtable on Tribal Law and Order Act (2/8)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee postpones field hearing into EPA (2/8)
Senate designates National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week (2/8)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation invests in our people's wellbeing (2/8)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe in public lands measure (2/8)
Harold Monteau: Democrats stack the deck for only one candidate (2/8)
Cutcha Risling Baldy: Don't let Leonard Peltier die in prison system (2/8)
Robert Jumper: Keep Eastern Cherokee council meetings on record (2/8)
Brian Pierson: Menominee Nation loses decision at Supreme Court (2/8)
Probe continues into unsolved homicide of 11-year-old Native girl (2/8)
Burns Paiute Tribe might seek to reopen judgment for stolen lands (2/8)
Shinnecock Nation approves plans to join medical marijuana field (2/8)
Teams protest corporate sponsor of Native basketball tournament (2/8)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe faces obstacles with repatriation of students (2/8)
Wallace Coffey resigns as chair of Comanche Nation after 25 years (2/8)
Broker accused of lying to tribal client about $190M in investments (2/8)
Seminole Tribe showcases long-lost declaration of independence (2/8)
Pope Francis to celebrate mass at Indian church for trip to Mexico (2/8)
California communities go without as casino revenue fund dries up (2/8)
Non-Indian firm looking to block Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (2/8)
Umatilla Tribes raise gambling age as sales of liquor start at casino (2/8)
Apology offered to girls who were forced to change Native hairstyle (2/5)
Mark Trahant: Bernie Sanders campaign starts Indian policy group (2/5)
Charles Trimble: Taking responsibility for upkeep of our cemeteries (2/5)
Mary Annette Pember: Memorial to Indian genocide eyed in Russia (2/5)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I guess I'm just one of those 'crazy' Indians (2/5)
Judge weighs compromise for $380M in leftover Keepseagle funds (2/5)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes movement on water rights settlement (2/5)
Yakama Nation wins decision on cost of cleaning up contamination (2/5)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe confident of casino bid despite lawsuit (2/5)
Arizona sees 6.9 percent boost in gaming contributions from tribes (2/5)
Cowlitz Tribe close to reaching agreement with city for new casino (2/5)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation questions exclusion from casino process (2/5)
Tribal leaders question management changes at IHS in Great Plains (2/4)
IHS chief medical officer apologizes for comments about newborns (2/4)
Group sues IHS for records about water pollution on Yakama Nation (2/4)
Sen. McCain still bothered by failure to block Arizona tribe's casino (2/4)
Gun Lake Tribe announces retirement of longtime chair DK Sprague (2/4)
House Natural Resources Committee passes Indian bills at markup (2/4)
Samuel Winder: Indian defendants face harsher criminal penalties (2/4)
Charles Kader: Tribal burial grounds in Florida are being desecrated (2/4)
Roger Chelsey: Pamunkey Tribe clears last hurdle for federal status (2/4)
Reno Sparks Indian Colony mourns passing of leader William Coffey (2/4)
Native students convince school to name Indigenous People's Day (2/4)
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.