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
Tribes focus energies on 'core' trust reform issues
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2003

Meeting without the Bush administration on Thursday, tribal leaders stressed the need to stay united as they move forward with initiatives to reform the broken Indian trust.

Reorganization, litigation and legislation were among the topics discussed at the Washington, D.C., gathering, called by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Tribal leaders said their task force, to operate independently of the Department of Interior, will focus on these and other "core" issues of trust reform.

"That's the beauty of a tribal leader's task force," said NCAI president Tex Hall in an interview after the meeting. "If you work together, you can accomplish those kinds of things."

Throughout the meeting, tribal leaders vented frustration with the Bush administration's reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Special Trustee (OST). Department officials are making significant changes at the national and reservation level that were characterized as bureaucratic bloat.

"When they came to our ancestors to sign treaties, there was only one Great White Father," said Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Daokta.(*) "Now, they are trying to make five or six. We need one place to go."

Another complaint was the shifting of funds to OST, whose budget next year will nearly double from $152 million to $275 million. Attendees said the boost was coming at the expense of other Indian programs and planned meetings with the White House and members of Congress in hopes of limiting the damage.

The task force also discussed working with the plaintiffs in the Cobell trust fund case currently underway in federal court. Although not a party to the case, which concerns individual trust funds, tribes are considering submitting an amicus brief to address, and possibly halt, the reorganization.

Keith Harper, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney on the case, welcomed tribal participation. Presenting an update on the litigation to the task force, he said it was important for Indian Country to stay united.

"We don't support the reorganization because it's a waste of money," Harper said after the meeting. "We do have to stand together."

On legislation, tribes are advancing two trust reform bills. The first would outline trust standards, create a single undersecretary for Indian affairs at the Interior and increase tribal participation in trust management.

Although the Bush administration is opposed to standards, the real meat of the bill, Shenan Atcitty, an attorney working for the Inter-Tribal Monitoring Association (ITMA), said it was necessary to keep the ball rolling. The bill, she added, would also resolve some of the tribes' concerns about the reorganization.

The other piece of legislation, being developed by the California Indian Legal Services, addresses Indian land consolidation and ownership. Lisa Oshiro, an attorney, said the bill would correct amendments, passed by Congress in 2000, that have caused fear among landowners.

"The 2000 amendments really terminated the status of a lot of Indians," she said. The new bill creates a uniform probate, or inheritance, code for landowners.

Although tribes have asked to restart government-to-government talks with the Interior, department officials are already implementing the reorganization. Training sessions for BIA and OST employees were being held across town while the tribes were meeting.

Next month, the two agencies will begin what is being called a "massive outreach program" to educate DOI employees and tribes about the reorganization, which is expected to take about a year to complete. A dozen or so meetings are planned throughout the country but officials acknowledge they are not consultation meetings.

*Ed. Note: The statement was made by Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, not James St. Goddard as was previously reported.

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:
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/30)
Tribes gathering for trust reform discussion (5/29)
NCAI's Hall stands by trust reform testimony (5/28)
Reorganization: Meet the 'new' OST (5/28)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
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)
At Interior, Indian affairs in a state of flux (02/11)
BIA agencies face new trust rating system (02/10)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Choctaw Nation Trial:
Trial on Choctaw Nation fraud winds down with final testimony (11/20)
Leader of Choctaw Nation faces tough questions in fraud trial (11/20)
Former leader of Choctaw Nation testifies in criminal trial (11/20)
Anticipation builds for testimony of Choctaw Nation leaders (11/20)
Trial exposes fraud against Choctaw Nation for casino project (11/20)
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux woman shot and killed by police (11/20)
Mark Trahant: Lakota honor song wasn't out of place in Senate (11/20)
Dog attack blamed for death of eight-year-old girl at Pine Ridge (11/20)
DOI issues status report on Cobell land consolidation program (11/20)
Greg Grey Cloud explains Lakota honor song after Senate vote (11/20)
Steven Newcomb: Disestablishing the doctrines of domination (11/20)
Sen. Mark Begich: Moving forward for the first people of Alaska (11/20)
Bill Richardson: Indian Country feels effects of climate change (11/20)
Smithsonian: Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 won't be forgotten (11/20)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe sues South Dakota over sales tax (11/20)
Morongo Band distributes 10K turkeys for Thanksgiving meals (11/20)
GAO report looks at tribal implementation of Adam Walsh Act (11/20)
FBI opens background check database to tribal law agencies (11/20)
Survey shows most Americans wouldn't use R-word in person (11/20)
USDA Blog: Youth from Angoon Tribe carry on their traditions (11/20)
Editorial: County and critics must stop fighting Chumash Tribe (11/20)
Editorial: Oklahoma Indian museum benefits the entire state (11/20)
Muscogee Nation finally starts work on $365M gaming project (11/20)
Two tribes making push for off-reservation casino in California (11/20)
Mashantucket Tribe hires new executive for gaming operation (11/20)
Opinion: Catawba Nation makes a sneak attack with casino bid (11/20)
Opinion: Poarch Creek gaming deal won't help state's economy (11/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne activists push for change (11/19)
Mark Trahant: Historic election in Alaska with Native candidate (11/19)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on child trauma (11/19)
Republicans hold up action on Alaska tribal jurisdiction measure (11/19)
DOI official to give update on Cobell land consolidation program (11/19)
Center for Native American Youth hosts panel discussion in DC (11/19)
Sen. Heitkamp to host panel on child trauma in Indian Country (11/19)
Gyasi Ross: Police shootings aren't just a 'people of color' issue (11/19)
Steven Newcomb: Focusing on liberation and self-determination (11/19)
Crow Creek Sioux man arrested as Senate rejects Keystone bill (11/19)
Leader of Tunica-Biloxi Tribe hit with prescription drug charges (11/19)
Performance sheds light on 'purchase' of Lenape island in 1626 (11/19)
Alaska Supreme Court hears dispute over tribal court authority (11/19)
Editorial: Put end to 'futile' taxation dispute with Chehalis Tribe (11/19)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes announce $27M casino (11/19)
Oneida Nation announces $100M retail development for casino (11/19)
Mohegan Tribe passed over for second casino in Pennsylvania (11/19)
Native Sun News: Winona LaDuke addresses energy addiction (11/18)
Jeffrey Whalen: Crime and corruption within Oglala Sioux Tribe (11/18)
Doug George-Kanentiio: NAMMYs promote Native musical talent (11/18)
Witness list for SCIA hearing on child trauma in Indian Country (11/18)
Joanne Shenandoah: Protect our Native children from violence (11/18)
Eric Holder: Responding to sexual violence in Indian Country (11/18)
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.