indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Funding levels flat in new Interior budget
Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Interior Secretary Gale Norton unveiled an $11 billion budget on Monday that provides a limited set of new funds for Indian Country programs.

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Norton said the fiscal year 2005 request enables the Department of Interior to fulfill its "inspiring" and "challenging" mission. She cited construction of Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and trust reform as top priorities of the Bush administration.

"Our budget will allow us to achieve our vision of healthy lands, thriving communities and dynamic economies," she said.

The new budget reflects an increase of just $250 million, or 2 percent, above current levels. Two agencies, the National Park Service and the Office of Special Trustee, are receiving the bulk of that increase.

That leaves the BIA with an overall cut of $52 million. At $2.3 billion, the agency is seeing decreases in education and resources management.

The cuts are offset by increases for trust related activities, although a large portion, $29.1 million, is going to build a new computer network for the BIA. In addition, the budget requests $5.5 million for new hires at BIA agencies and $4 million for specialists and attorney decision-makers who will reduce the backlog of Indian probates.

"This work will not be easy," said Lynn Scarlett, the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.

Overall, the trust budget is $616.4 million, an increase of $161.1 million over current levels. Some of the money goes to BIA but the bulk ends up at OST, which was created by Congress to oversee reform efforts.

OST has expanded its mission in recent years, and the new budget reflects the change. At $322.7 million, the agency is seeing a $113.6 million, or 54 percent, increase above current levels.

Most of the money, $109.4 million, will fund historical accounting activities for Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, although officials believe a pending court appeal, or possible Congressional action, could change the amount. The Office of Historical Trust Accounting expects to use $29.4 million on tribal trust accounts.

Within BIA and OST, there are two initiatives of interest. One is the creation of a new Office of Tribal Consultation at BIA with a $1.1 million budget.

Principal deputy assistant secretary Aurene Martin said she saw a great need for the office. "One of the things I noticed was that we didn't do the whole process of consultation very well," she said in an interview. "So I wanted to find a mechanism for providing a point of contact and continuity for tribes when we do have consultations."

Martin said the office will most likely be operated out of Washington, D.C., and will have a staff of five, including a director. The office will report to the assistant secretary for Indian affairs, which does not follow the Indian preference policy.

The second initiative is a major expansion in efforts to consolidate the Indian estate. Over generations, Indian allotments have become fractionated among many different owners, reducing the financial viability of the land and, government officials say, increasing administrative burdens.

The budget seeks $75.0 million for land consolidation, an increase of $53.3 million. Special Trustee Ross Swimmer said current funding levels are insufficient to made a dent in the issue.

"When we look at the statistics, that won't even keep up with the rate of fractionation," he said in an interview yesterday.

A Congressional requirement forces the money for consolidation to be given to OST, which then transfers the funds to BIA. Martin said consolidation will continue to be overseen out of the Great Lake regional office, which has run a pilot program for five years to limited success -- while a large number of fractionated interests were purchased, an even larger number were generated in the same amount of time.

In other areas of concern for Indian Country, the tribal priority allocation (TPA) request is $775.6 million, a small increase of $4.9 million. TPA funds are critical because tribes use them to carry out day-to-day government programs and functions.

For the first time in recent years, the BIA budget includes money for staffing detention centers. An increase of $7.8 million will help eight jails that are being completed in fiscal year 2005.

Five BIA schools are up for construction in 2005. The Bread Springs Day School, Ojo Encino Day School and Beclabito Day School in New Mexico; the Leupp Boarding School in Arizona; and the Chemawa Indian School Dormitory in Oregon will receive $68.5 million.

But overall, the BIA school construction account is being cut by $65.9 million. "The funding level has been reduced in order to allow the program to focus on building the schools already funded for construction," the budget states.

Relevant Documents:
Fiscal Year 2005 Budget in Brief | Unified Trust Budget | Serving Tribal Communities | BIA Highlights | Departmental Offices [for Office of Special Trustee]

Related Stories:
NCAI president uses speech to lobby for funding (01/22)
DOI fares poorly on computer security report card (12/11)
Trust fund rider faces test in courtroom (11/24)
Tribes and Bush administration still apart on trust (11/20)
Tribal leaders press Bush administration on policy (11/19)
Tribes ride fine line on Interior budget bill (11/06)
Congress clears Indian funding in budget bill (11/4)
House approves trust fund rider in DOI bill (10/31)
Campbell pushes action on trust fund suit (10/30)
Battle brews in House over DOI budget bill (10/30)
Cobell rallies support for trust fund case (10/28)
DOI bill halts Indian trust fund case (10/24)
Bill targets Indian trust fund suit (10/22)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
Cherokee Nation celebrates births of first calves from bison herd (4/23)
Burns Paiute Tribe investigates fire that destroyed two bulidings (4/23)
Kaibab Paiute Tribe welcomes designation as 1st dark sky nation (4/23)
University of Minnesota sees surge in Native student enrollment (4/23)
Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights (4/23)
Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals (4/23)
Brazil to host inaugural World Indigenous Games this September (4/23)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation probes woman's death at casino (4/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation vows defense for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Seminole Tribe talks with lawmakers about Class III casino deal (4/23)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (4/23)
Native Sun News: Tribes take DOI to task over grizzly bear policy (4/22)
Native Sun News: Lakota rodeo legend Howard Hunter passes on (4/22)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation language programs are working (4/22)
White House Blog: Improving the lives of Native American youth (4/22)
Bob Gough: Indigenous people most affected by climate change (4/22)
Duane Champagne: Indigenous accommodation for colonialism (4/22)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee on transportation (4/22)
Navajo Nation voters choose Russell Begaye as next president (4/22)
Appeals court sides with Indian inmate in religious rights case (4/22)
Kashia Band interested in timber not marijuana on new lands (4/22)
Kaw Nation to return to ancestral land in Kansas for ceremony (4/22)
Moapa Band to host Further Future music festival next month (4/22)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe runs into opposition to fish hatchery (4/22)
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.