Home > News > More Headlines > A month later BIA reorganization details emerge
Printer friendly version
A month later, BIA reorganization details emerge

Bush administration officials approved the reorganization of Indian affairs within the Department of Interior in late November, soon after Neal McCaleb promised to share whatever he knew with tribes, according to documents submitted in federal court.

The changes to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Special Trustee (OST) weren't made public until December 4. But internal memoranda show that McCaleb, who resigned as assistant secretary for Indian affairs last month, and acting Special Trustee Donna Erwin approved them on November 25, right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The reorganization, however, couldn't be made final until Secretary Gale Norton accepted it. She did so on December 3 and the following day, a small group of tribal leaders was invited to see the results of what McCaleb and other officials characterized as last-minute work.

"It is not half-baked," McCaleb said later that month at a meeting with tribal leaders, "but it lacks refinement."

The proposal, included as part of a reform plan submitted to a federal judge last week, was heavily anticipated by tribal leaders who have since registered their opposition. They said it lacks standards and creates more levels of bureaucracy instead of improving services at the reservation level.

But the way it was unveiled has been hotly debated as well. Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) said the administration has not been forthcoming about its deliberations as is required of a trustee.

"We can't get the truth out of DOI anymore," he said in an interview.

Some members of Congress, including former Senate leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) also questioned the latest developments. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who is overseeing litigation affecting the trust, last week accepted a critical letter authored by Pallone, a member of the Congressional Native American Caucus, that accused Secretary of Interior Gale Norton of providing misleading information about her plans.

"It is critical that the information presented by the Department of Interior in this case accurately represents the actions of Congress and the approval of the tribal governments," he wrote on January 2. "However, Secretary Norton's intentions seem to be to proceed with the case and misrepresent her level of support in order to circumvent real Congressional approval."

Norton's earlier efforts to reorganize were also greeted with opposition. With no prior consultation, she announced the creation of a new trust agency in November 2001. Court documents she later submitted depicted BITAM as the result of months of work among department officials yet none of it was shared with tribes or key members of Congress.

Bush officials said they learned from that experience and would be more responsive to Indian Country. "When we have something, we'll share it," McCaleb said at NCAI's annual session on November 11 with regard to the government's anticipated actions.

With regard to the current reorganization, tribes felt they were blind-sided by the department's intent to use $5 million in funds to implement it. Most weren't aware of the reprogramming request, made to Congress on December 4, until Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles released copies of the letter on December 17.

A day later, Senate appropriators approved the money. Norton said she received House approval on December 10.

Relevant Documents:
DOI Memoranda (Submitted January 6, 2003)

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
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/

Related Stories:
Additional DOI documents filed on Jan. 6 (1/10)
Treasury won't file trust reform plan (1/9)
Standards guide reform effort (1/8)
What happened to all the land? (1/8)
Congressman accuses Norton of 'stealth' moves (1/8)
Sioux chairman calls BIA talks a 'sham' (1/8)
Cobell trust reform plans filed (1/7)
Norton to fight IIM accounting (1/7)
DOI complains about consultation (1/7)
Court official demands documents (1/7)
Griles: No evidence of trust fund loss (1/7)
Swimmer picked as Indian trustee (1/6)
Norton won't account for assets (1/6)
McCaleb learned about trust 'on the job' (12/23)
Lamberth slams claimed accounting (12/23)
Edwards: Slonaker changed mind on accounts (12/23)
McCaleb challenges trust accounting claims (12/19)
Deadline approaches on plans (12/19)
Tribes opposing BIA proposal (12/18)
'This is not son of BITAM' (12/17)
Tribes debate future of talks (12/17)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
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.