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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Fate of Indian preference in hands of Swimmer
Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The Department of Interior official overseeing trust reform said this week he is still mulling a decision that would result in the loss of Indian preference for dozens of employees.

In hopes of ensuring independence and integrity, the department has consolidated appraisal functions previously performed by various agencies. The new organization is located in the National Business Center.

The Office of Special Trustee (OST) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) aren't part of the new unit. But for the past several months, Special Trustee Ross Swimmer has been debating whether to join the effort.

Last last year, OST held three meetings and took comments from tribal leaders about the idea. Swimmer has been evaluating the responses received and has met with top officials to discuss how to proceed.

"Due to the complexity of the issue and, frankly, my concerns of what I heard over what I heard in Indian Country, maybe by the end of March, I would hope to have a pretty good recommendation of where to go with it," he said in an interview on Monday.

Swimmer said the comments submitted by tribes fell in four major areas: Indian preference, organization, priority and budget.

According to the department's lawyers, Indian preference will no longer apply if the employees who perform appraisals for trust lands are moved. About 67 posts would be affected but even if they lose their preference status, Swimmer said he will continue to look to hire qualified American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Swimmer also said tribes are concerned about the regional appraisal offices that currently exist throughout Indian Country. Tribes want to know if the organization will expand or if the offices will be forced to move. Currently, the offices are being overseen by an acting manager who is stationed in Phoenix, Arizona.

Another issue is whether trust lands will be given a higher priority. Tribes are worried about competing with other Interior agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for appraisal services.

Finally, Swimmer said tribes want to know whether the budget for appraisals will increase, and how it will be spent. Currently, nearly $11 million is allocated for the job.

Up until early 2002, the Office of Appraisal Services was under the authority of the BIA. But without consulting tribes, former BIA head Neal McCaleb handed the program over to OST. The transfer was not initiated by Swimmer, who was not the special trustee at the time.

Since then, the BIA has continued to pay for the appraisals of trust lands. But in the fiscal year 2005 budget that was released on Monday, the Bush administration is proposing to take the funding from the BIA and give it to OST.

The change appears cosmetic but it has a big impact on tribes because the appraisal budget falls under the tribal priority allocation (TPA) account. Tribes will be losing $10.4 million if the transfer is approved.

As he moves forward, Swimmer said he is considering different alternatives. One option is to join the department unit. Another is to establish some sort of "management contract" between the unit and OST. The final option is to leave things as they stand.

"In the meantime, it's still being operated through OST and it will continue to be," he said.

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

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:
Editorial: Reform DOI, not the trust responsibility (11/26)
Tribes and Bush administration still apart on trust (11/20)
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)
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Court master releases report on Navajo appraisals (8/20)
Swimmer weighs consolidation of appraisals (8/15)
Navajo trust fund manager targeted in internal probe (07/15)
Indian employees challenging DOI reorganization (06/03)
Navajo leaders criticize upheaval at trust fund office (05/09)
Confusion detailed at Interior (10/16)
DOI land swap program to be reviewed (10/11)
Norton land deal subject of dispute (10/01)
DOI approved $100M land 'giveaway' (8/19)

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:
President Trump confirms Indian Country's fears with budget request (5/23)
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior nominee contradicts Trump on 'race' and tribal programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
Steven Newcomb: The racist and toxic roots of federal Indian policy (5/19)
Indian Country braces for worst with Trump's planned budget cuts (5/18)
Bipartisan task force announced to look into Indian Health Service (5/18)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (5/18)
Albert Bender: Police slaughter of Native people rages unabated (5/18)
Steve Russell: There's a downside to impeaching Donald Trump (5/18)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant goes on trial (5/18)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays money to address federal audit (5/18)
House passes bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (5/18)
Kalispel Tribe using bottled water at casino after contamination (5/18)
Leech Lake Band wins approval to build new casino at new site (5/18)
Tohono O'odham Nation secures victory in long-running dispute (5/17)
Dakota Access seeks to intervene in Oglala Sioux Tribe's lawsuit (5/17)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves 3 bills at meeting (5/17)
Indian Health Service and 'high risk' tribal programs on agenda (5/17)
Bureau of Indian Affairs designates service area for Tejon Tribe (5/17)
Ruth Hopkins: Taxpayers footing $15M bill for DAPL private army (5/17)
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.