Home > News > More Headlines > Effects of trust budget on Indian programs debated
Printer friendly version
Effects of trust budget on Indian programs debated
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2003

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/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

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

Parents of Lakota 57 respond to not guilty verdict in Rapid City (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: New food bank on Pine Ridge Reservation (9/2)
Mark Trahant: FCC invents new law for tribal lands in Oklahoma (9/2)
Native Sun News Editorial: Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton (9/2)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe needs to establish 'virtual' school (9/2)
Steven Newcomb: The religious basis of Doctrine of Discovery (9/2)
Carly McIntosh: Feeling love from elders at naming ceremony (9/2)
Winnebago Tribe reports results of primary election for council (9/2)
President Obama set for visit to Native communities in Alaska (9/2)
Alaska Native students being left behind in their own backyard (9/2)
Opinion: Alaska will lose appeal in BIA land-into-trust lawsuit (9/2)
Mississippi Choctaw leader faces challenge in election drama (9/2)
Donald Trump wanted a casino with Seminole Tribe in Florida (9/2)
New Mexico tribes proposed casino in downtown Albuquerque (9/2)
Construction worker dies at site of Jamul Indian Village casino (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: Not guilty verdict after Lakota 57 trial (9/1)
President Obama meets Native leaders after landing in Alaska (9/1)
Rhonda Pitka: Alaska Natives put priority on subsistence rights (9/1)
Transcript: Obama remarks following Native leaders roundtable (9/1)
94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song (9/1)
Politicians in Ohio oppose return of Alaska Native name for peak (9/1)
Passamaquoddy Tribe takes a step toward marijuana cultivation (9/1)
Center for Native American Youth seeks new executive director (9/1)
Supreme Court takes up petition in Kialegee Tribal Town dispute (9/1)
NCAI pushes for court rehearing in tribal labor sovereignty case (9/1)
Education Department awards $50.4M in grants to tribal colleges (9/1)
Native Sun News: Teens attacked on Rosebud Sioux Reservation (9/1)
Clara Caufield: Cheyenne brothers and sisters share language (9/1)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Shutting down a new generation of hate (9/1)
Jennifer Fielder: Tribes struggling to break free from bondage (9/1)
Brian Pierson: Big decision in Seminole Tribe's taxation case (9/1)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Young tribal members cited for wild rice harvest in Minnesota (9/1)
Lake named for war secretary who pushed for removal of tribes (9/1)
Tribal college students participate in NASA challenge in Virginia (9/1)
La Jolla Band welcomes visitors to longest zip line in California (9/1)
Chukchansi Tribe still aiming for reopening of casino this month (9/1)
Cherokee Nation contributed $11M to upgrade road near casino (9/1)
President Obama restores Alaska Native name of highest peak (8/31)
BIA announces $1.75M in grants fot tribal education programs (8/31)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux counselor combats youth suicide (8/31)
Native Sun News: Lakota 57 parents seek counseling for incident (8/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: I remember I am alive and a survivor (8/31)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women betrayed in violence fight (8/31)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.