indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Bush reorganization faces more obstacles
FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2003

Two leading Indian Country advocates made a bipartisan request on Thursday to halt the reorganization of Indian affairs at the Department of Interior.

Criticizing the pending changes as short-sighted and inadequate, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the minority leader, asked Senate appropriators not to approve additional funds for the proposal. In a letter, the lawmakers called for a new round of "genuine" tribal consultation and "extensive" Congressional hearings.

"Mismanagement of Indian trust assets by the federal government is a longstanding problem that spans a number of administrations of both political parties," McCain and Daschle wrote. "However, the complexity and longevity of this fiasco neither mitigates the injustice visited on the 300,000 American Indians whose accounts have been shortchanged nor absolves the federal government of its responsibility to correct the situation in a timely manner."

The letter was delivered to Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate subcommittee that funds the Interior. Last December, the panel approved the use of $15 million to make significant changes at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Special Trustee (OST). A House subcommittee also gave its nod.

Most tribal leaders oppose the reorganization. "We don't like it," said Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. in an interview. "It's being done unilaterally."

But there has been little they could to do stop it. Announced in early December while Congress was in recess, many felt department officials were trying to rush it through without tribal consent.

"Consultation is a two-way street," said National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Tex Hall. "It just can't be on their terms."

With the reorganization funds already approved, the Bush administration is forging ahead, citing a need to be responsive to a federal judge overseeing the debacle. Testifying before a House subcommittee on Wednesday, Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles said the money will be used, in part, to hire dozens of trust officers who will be the "first line of contact for tribal and Indian beneficiaries" throughout the country.

Last year, tribal leaders spent nine months with Bush administration officials in an attempt to resolve more than a century of Indian trust asset mismanagement. The goal was to develop reforms that Indian Country and the federal government could both support. Tribal leaders had rejected an earlier proposal to create an entirely new trust agency.

But talks fell apart in September, a week after Secretary Gale Norton and her former Indian affairs aide Neal McCaleb, now retired, were held in contempt of court for lying about efforts to fix the system.

The Interior has not responded to tribal requests to restart the dialogue. NCAI, which represents more than 200 tribes, wants to hold a trust reform summit next month to bring the department back to the table.

McCain and Daschle said that was only the first step to true reform. The second was to hold hearings before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the letter stated.

"Going forward, both Congress and tribal leaders need to be given the opportunity to provide input on all important trust reform proposals," Daschle added.

Relevant Documents:
McCain-Daschle Letter to Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee (March 13, 2003) | House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Letter (December 10, 2002) | Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Letter (December 18, 2002) | Reprogramming Letter to Congress (December 4, 2002)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
Educators opposing BIA plans (3/11)
Norton says trust forced 'tough choices' in budget (02/12)
New Bush budget aims to improve trust fund (02/04)
McCain asked to halt BIA reorganization (01/16)
McCaleb approved reorganization in Nov. (1/13)
Tribes weigh reform plan response (1/13)
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)
Swimmer picked as Indian trustee (1/6)
Norton won't account for assets (1/6)
McCaleb learned about trust 'on the job' (12/23)
Tribes furious with Interior's reform push (12/20)
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
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: A ride-along with a South Dakota county sheriff (4/17)
Lakota Country Times: Sen. Tester pushes for tribal college funds (4/17)
Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)
Brandon Ecoffey: Vincent Brewer was a family man and a cowboy (4/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restoring our sacred peak to its original name (4/17)
Clara Caufield: A faithful servant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (4/17)
Steve Russell: Shocking students with the truth about US history (4/17)
Sunnie Clahchischiligi: Get on board with Ho-Chunk Nation player (4/17)
Navajo Nation candidates enter final stretch of bumpy campaign (4/17)
Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge (4/17)
Colorado lawmaker continues tradition of bolo ties on Capitol Hill (4/17)
Editorial: End discrimination against Native Americans in Michigan (4/17)
Editorial: Virginia's tribes need federal recognition from Congress (4/17)
Indiana lawmakers not so welcoming to Pokagon Band casino bid (4/17)
Arizona agency threatens to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/17)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Mohegan Tribe's casino enterprise named one of best employers (4/17)
Native Sun News: Senate field hearing focuses on tribes and coal (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Program brings healthy food to Pine Ridge (4/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Death rituals among the Mohawk people (4/16)
James Giago Davies: Just another crazy breed Lakota in the IHS (4/16)
Karin Eagle: UNITY media summit draws people to reservation (4/16)
Walt Lamar: Addicts in Indian Country turning to spiked heroin (4/16)
Congress passes renewal of Indian Country diabetes program (4/16)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Sen. Barrasso highlights 100 days of work on Indian legislation (4/16)
Alaska to make changes to Indian Child Welfare Act procedures (4/16)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe council meeting ends in shouting match (4/16)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (4/16)
New York City approves marker where Indian slaves were sold (4/16)
President of Rosebud Sioux Tribe removed after ethics hearing (4/16)
Colorado House approves bill to restrict use of Indian mascots (4/16)
Lumbee Tribe remains in long quest to gain federal recognition (4/16)
Senate votes to confirm Jonodev Chaudhuri as leader of NIGC (4/16)
Letter raises legal issues for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (4/16)
Mohegan Tribe went to South Korea to discuss potential casino (4/16)
Quapaw Tribe faces opposition over possible casino in Arkansas (4/16)
Colville Tribes plan ceremonial debut of $68M casino next month (4/16)
Rincon Band contributes $9.5M to highway projects near casino (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux district endorses marijuana (4/15)
Native Sun News: Candidates to debate on tribal college campus (4/15)
Native Sun News: Former police chief runs for Rapid City mayor (4/15)
Mark Trahant: Millions of Native Americans wait on health care (4/15)
Dana Lone Elk: Francis Pumpkin Seed always had a bright smile (4/15)
Stephen Pevar: Tribes and families fight back with ICWA lawsuit (4/15)
Paul Moorehead: Tribes need greater control of their own lands (4/15)
Obama to visit city near Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation in May (4/15)
Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes host honoring for Suzan Shown Harjo (4/15)
DOI issues $10.5M in offers on Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (4/15)
Navajo Nation signs buy-back cooperative agreement with DOI (4/15)
Indian arts organization seeks replacement for top executive (4/15)
National Park Service releases eight grants for NAGPRA efforts (4/15)
Bill introduced in Senate to support placing woman on $20 bill (4/15)
Judge Judy chooses reservation school for graduation speech (4/15)
Museum named after famed Pueblo woman artist closes doors (4/15)
Quick justice for assault of woman on Chitimacha Reservation (4/15)
WBUR: Reporter discusses youth suicide in Oglala Sioux Tribe (4/15)
Editorial: Agua Caliente Band can help ease tensions over land (4/15)
BIA hears from public on Pokagon Band gaming plan in Indiana (4/15)
Fond du Lac Band spars with city over services for urban casino (4/15)
Seminole Tribe faces complaints over business deals at casino (4/15)
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.