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
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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:
Indian Country shares spotlight at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Recap: Native American Council at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Lakota Country Times: SuAnne Big Crow Center focuses on fitness (7/27)
Native Sun News: Tribal college showcases works of Lakota artists (7/27)
Vi Waln: Too many of our own people continue to smoke cigarettes (7/27)
Andre Cramblit: Growing wiser in my return to Dartmouth College (7/27)
Indian Country makes presence known at Democratic convention (7/26)
Tim Giago: Questioning the motto of GOP candidate Donald Trump (7/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala team lands Indian relay title again (7/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes honor author of Indian Child Welfare Act (7/26)
Delphine Red Shirt: Let's eat food that's always been good for us (7/26)
Peter d'Errico: Luci Tapahonso tackles legacy of boarding schools (7/26)
Donald Trump tried to partner with Agua Caliente Band on casino (7/26)
Native American Council meets at Democratic National Convention (7/25)
Police officer cleared over fatal shooting of Navajo Nation woman (7/25)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Donald Trump and his campaign of hatred (7/25)
Native Sun News: Tribal advocate focuses on Great Plains efforts (7/25)
Lakota Country Times: Descendants of Pine Ridge legend gather (7/25)
Johnny Rustywire: Navajo mother works hard at motel for family (7/25)
Alex Jacobs: Nation finally admits problem with policing and race (7/25)
Dwaine Perry: Ramapough Lunaape Nation marching for justice (7/25)
Charges filed for assault on disabled member of Nisqually Tribe (7/25)
Man arrested for American Indian Movement flag settles lawsuit (7/25)
Interior Department consults tribes about new trust reform law (7/22)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (7/22)
Yurok Tribe shares sad news about salmon festival -- no salmon (7/22)
Mark Charles: An entire nation's big problem with Donald Trump (7/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump promises a world with no treaties (7/22)
Native Sun News: Appeal delays release of Keepseagle checks (7/22)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts walk for cancer (7/22)
James Giago Davies: Police officers get away with 'kill option' (7/22)
Andre Cramblit: Police officer shootings seem far too common (7/22)
Donald Trump closes convention that left out Indian Country (7/22)
New law in Oklahoma goes against Indian Arts and Crafts Act (7/22)
NMAI seeks input from tribes about veterans memorial in DC (7/22)
Blackfeet Nation swears in leaders and looks to a new future (7/22)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe kicks off popular powwow after absence (7/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe declares emergency over opioids (7/22)
Review: Hard look at drugs in Indian Country in 'Seventh Fire' (7/22)
State takes blame for sharing Tohono O'odham Nation minutes (7/22)
Pokagon Band debuts expansion of gaming facility in Michigan (7/22)
Karuk Tribe ready for groundbreaking on long-awaited casino (7/22)
California remains a battleground for Indian Child Welfare Act (7/21)
Yurok Tribe launches operation to rid reservation of marijuana (7/21)
Laguna Pueblo loses case linked to military contract kickbacks (7/21)
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.