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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...

Latest Headlines:

Cronkite News: Navajo Nation prepares for changes at coal power plant
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law comes from a White man's mind
Dakota Access security firm was denied license but kept working anyway
Lawsuits expected after President Trump changes Bears Ears boundary
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe shifts course on casino land-into-trust bid
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe announces hotel as part of casino expansion
Family from Crow Tribe wins right to pursue lawsuit against federal agent
Mark Trahant: Republican health care reform bill impacts Indian Country
Steve Russell: Republican answer to Obamacare only benefits the wealthy
Hualapai Tribe learns more about citizen who was killed on duty in Vietnam
Zia Pueblo wants symbol removed from flag of city in far-away Wisconsin
Northern Cheyenne Tribe won't touch coal deposit despite economic woes
Life-saving road for Native village inches forward in Alaska and in D.C.
Two more Pueblo tribes challenge state's demand for gaming revenue
Wilton Rancheria won't comment on status of gaming compact talks
Trump administration rolls out first rule under historic trust reform law
Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed to New Mexico for hearing
House committee again leaves out Indian Country in hearing on Interior
Mark Maxey: Oklahoma tries to crush Native protesters with new law
Carletta Tilousi: Havasupai Tribe threatened by uranium development
Opinion: Don't be fooled by Jimmie Durham's claims of Cherokee heritage
Opinion: Economic development for Indian Country in upcoming farm bill
Government worker suspended after calling Native principal a 'rabid s----'
Kiowa citizen Tristan Ahtone to report on tribes for High Country News
New York Times features Dina Gilio-Whitaker in editorial on health care
Tribes break ground on monument to their history in Virginia's capitol
Warm Springs Tribes battle large wildfire that broke out behind casino
Spokane Tribe casino doesn't bother Air Force despite claims in lawsuit
Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
>>> 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.