Home > News > More Headlines > Effects of trust budget on Indian programs debated
Printer friendly version
Effects of trust budget on Indian programs debated

The head of the nation's largest inter-tribal organization is defending recent Congressional testimony that criticized the Bush administration for taking money from Indian programs to pay for trust reform.

At a Senate hearing last week, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) president Tex Hall said $71 million in tribal programs and $32 million in education funds was being cut. Yet at the same time, he noted that the Office of Special Trustee (OST) will receive a more than 50 percent increase -- from from $152 million to $275 million -- next year.

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

But two Department of Interior officials disputed Hall's account the following day on Native America Calling. Special trustee Ross Swimmer and Aurene Martin, the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said Hall's information was wrong.

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

Responding to the radio show remarks, Hall said the only misunderstanding was with the Interior. "As I have said before, NCAI is not opposed to reorganization, we just want to see it done right," he said. "And right now, the Interior Department plan is flawed, too expensive, and being implemented without tribal consultation."

Hall pointed to Secretary Gale Norton's own testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. On February 11, she acknowledged that education funds were being eliminated due to trust reform.

"For many of our programs, we had to weigh things against the Indian trust allocation because that was our highest priority," she testified. "We had to look closely at other programs."

Martin, in a March 5 appearance before the Indian affairs committee, also agreed that there was shifting of funds. "I regret that, to some extent, our tribal services programs may be affected," she said. "We're doing everything we can to minimize that."

Overall, the Interior's fiscal year 2004 budget request is $10.7 billion, a record high. Nearly half of the increase is for trust programs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the OST, which officials say points to the high priority placed on resolving historical problems.

Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have questioned the fairness of placing trust reform on the backs of Indian Country. "It seems clear that exiting problems in trust management have been caused not by Indian beneficiaries but by the government," Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) told Martin at the March hearing, "and this goes back in history."

"Indian tribes have no other resources to build their schools or for funds except for the federal government," Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) told Norton. "It's our responsibility. They have no taxes, they can't raise the mill levy, they can't do anything."

Besides Hall, other tribal leaders have echoed the same complaint. Last week's hearing was filled with criticism of OST's expanding budget. OST, they noted, was envisioned as a temporary office.

"Tribes have made it clear that DOI should not use program dollars to help fund the mistakes of the administration," said Keller George, president of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET). "Tribes have stressed that the BIA's funding should not be diminished in order to fund the trust effort of the OST."

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

Related Stories:
Swimmer: Tex Hall's testimony 'was not true' (5/23)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Daschle testimony on Indian affairs reorganization (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Reorganization: Meet the 'new' BIA (04/30)
DOI begins second transition period on Indian affairs (04/29)
Bunker metality evident in trust reform fight (04/22)
Bush reorganization faces more obstacles (03/14)
BIA initiatives to impact Indian education (03/11)
Norton says trust forced 'tough choices' in budget (02/12)
At Interior, Indian affairs in a state of flux (02/11)
Bush budget restricts spending on Indian Country (02/10)
BIA agencies face new trust rating system (02/10)
New Bush budget aims to improve trust fund (02/04)
McCain asked to halt BIA reorganization (01/16)
Tribes debate response to trust reform plans (01/13)
Swimmer was promised BITAM job (1/16)
Tribes moving to oppose Swimmer nomination (01/06)
Unfit officials stick it to Indians again (12/09)
A super assistant secretary, in all but name (05/03)
Swimmer legacy still haunts BIA (02/12)
Reagan's Indian chief is back (11/20)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Supreme Court agrees to hear Omaha Reservation boundary case (10/2)
BIA proclaims another 104 acres as reservation of Shakopee Tribe (10/2)
Native Sun News: Court hears case over soil farm near Pine Ridge (10/2)
Clara Caufield: The ups and downs of growing up as a 'half-breed' (10/2)
Steven Newcomb: Doctrine of domination hinders tribal land claim (10/2)
Ian Zabarte: Western Shoshone territory in Nevada is not for sale (10/2)
Sam Campbell: Catholic Church continues to celebrate genocide (10/2)
Maia Szalavitz: Stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol (10/2)
Dartmouth removes director of Native program after controversy (10/2)
Guilty pleas for shootings of Indian men in Wyoming border town (10/2)
Santa Clara Pueblo seeks payment for use of land for utility lines (10/2)
Chairman of Mashantucket Tribe seeks another term on council (10/2)
Pro and Con: Lytton Band land-into-trust and development plan (10/2)
Chukchansi Tribe heads to vote as casino closure hits one year (10/2)
Spokane Tribe still waiting for answer on off-reservation casino (10/2)
Coquille Tribe awaits next step in bid for off-reservation casino (10/2)
Ione Band of Miwok Indians continues with long quest for casino (10/2)
Cobell scholarship fund now boasts nearly $30M from settlement (10/1)
Changes to Navajo Nation water rights settlement signed into law (10/1)
Alaska Native health corporation secures transfer of IHS property (10/1)
Judge rejects challenges to Ione Band land-into-trust application (10/1)
Native Sun News: Lakota Code Talker captured Nazi flag in WWII (10/1)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Onondaga Nation brings honor to us all (10/1)
Ivan F. Star Comes Out: Tribes paid dearly for all that 'free' stuff (10/1)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reports strong interest in pot resort (10/1)
Native alumni at Dartmouth seek removal of Native program hire (10/1)
IBIA rejects challenge to Grand Traverse Band land-into-trust bid (10/1)
DOJ audit slams handling of $70M in grants for Navajo Nation jails (10/1)
Ute Tribe and states win injunction against new BLM fracking rule (10/1)
Heather Denkmire: State tries to take river from Penobscot Nation (10/1)
Authorities investigate deaths on Northern Cheyenne Reservation (10/1)
President Obama signs bill to fund government thru December 11 (10/1)
Republican Jeb Bush defends racist name of Washington NFL team (10/1)
Connecticut tribes release request for proposals for a new casino (10/1)
Poarch Creeks meet for mediation session in casino tax dispute (10/1)
Eastern Cherokees bring gaming market a little closer to Atlanta (10/1)
Editorial: Dry Creek Rancheria casino still a threat to community (10/1)
House subcommittee embraces two tribal federal recognition bills (9/30)
Shinnecock Nation welcomes Secretary Jewell on key anniversary (9/30)
Jeb Bush wants tribes and states to control energy development (9/30)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on energy (9/30)
Former Indian Affairs attorney at Interior Department joins firm (9/30)
National Indian Gaming Commission finally sees another member (9/30)
Native Sun News: Agency in South Dakota hires first tribal liaison (9/30)
Native Sun News: Lakota blues player opens South Dakota festival (9/30)
Jay Daniels: Tribal news requires the negative as well as positive (9/30)
Steve Russell: Religious fundamentalism courtesy of county clerk (9/30)
Colville Tribes weigh amendment for small amounts of marijuana (9/30)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe raids marijuana operation on reservation (9/30)
Tulalip Tribes man convicted for buying guns despite court order (9/30)
Congress set to pass measure to avert shutdown of government (9/30)
Colombian tribe still struggling after being forced out of homeland (9/30)
Tribal communities in Nicaragua disrupted by influx of newcomers (9/30)
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.