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Swimmer: Tex Hall's testimony 'was not true'
FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2003

The Bush administration is not taking money from Indian programs and using it to fund trust reform initiatives, a Department of Interior official said on Thursday.

Appearing on the radio program Native America Calling, special trustee Ross Swimmer said Congressional testimony provided by Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) "was not true at all."

"None of that testimony was true," Swimmer told host Harlan McKosato. "I don't think it was intentional. I think it's just a misunderstanding."

On Wednesday, Hall appeared before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He said $71 million dollars in tribal programs and $32 million in education funds was being diverted in order to fund Swimmer's Office of Special Trustee.

"You cannot ask for a more symbolic and ironic example of the government's callous indifference to our needs," testified Hall. "We are literally being asked to pay for the government's mistakes with our children's education money."

Hall's figures were based on an NCAI analysis of the Interior's fiscal year 2004 budget, which funds OST at $275 million, an increase of $123 million from current levels. According to NCAI, the increase was offset by cuts in other areas of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' budget.

Aurene Martin, the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said she didn't know where the $32 million figure came from. She said BIA funds are being shifted from program to program but that no money is being cut. "That's simply not true," she said.

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

Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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