indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Group cites shift in tribal self-determination policy
TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2003

A public employees group on Monday called on the Bush administration to halt efforts to hand control of national parks and refuges to tribal governments.

In a letter to Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said the transfer of federal functions to tribes contravenes federal law. The group charges that Norton "re-interpreted" the Indian Self-Determination Act in a little discussed Federal Register notice published more than a year ago.

"This point is that a wholesale turnover of federal land management to any private group, corporation or sovereign nation is a matter of significant national interest," wrote Gene Hocutt, a former refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Dan Meyer, PEER's general counsel.

PEER's immediate target is a pending management agreement for the National Bison Range in Montana. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is in high-level talks with the Department of Interior to take over the range. The tribes have a cultural, legal and historical connection to the 18,800-acre refuge, which is located entirely within the Flathead Reservation.

But the group is also setting its sights on what it contends is a shift in Indian policy, pointing to an April 5, 2002, Federal Register notice that identifies 34 national parks and 31 wildlife refuges for potential tribal control. PEER contends the Bush administration wants to "cede" these units -- and employees -- to tribes.

"It now looks as if scarce federal refuge dollars will be given to tribes to hire contractors to fulfill the tasks that are currently being expertly administered by federal employees," the letter states.

The notice, however, is not all that different than what the Clinton administration published after the Indian Self-Determination Act was amended in 1994 to include a tribal self-governance program, which allows tribes to exercise even more control over their destinies. As far back as 1997, the Interior has listed dozens of national parks and wildlife refuges eligible for compacting due tribal significance.

For the Salish and Kootenai tribes, the National Bison Range is one of those entities. In an April 23 letter to Norton, chairman Fred Matt noted the tribes' connections to the range, which used to be held in trust for the tribes. "Also, the bison that reside on the NBR are descendants from a herd, which originated on the reservation," he wrote.

Deputy assistant secretary Paul Hoffman is the Interior's chief negotiator on the plan and supports the tribal takeover. He led a public meeting in Montana last month where opposition and support was voiced. He commented that non-Indian opposition seemed to be based on "pretty old history," according to a May 20 report published in The Missoulian.

Tribal members and Indian leaders have also questioned whether racism is being injected into the discussions, according to subsequent Missoulian reports. "What have we sunk to? Drunken Indians? Handouts? The law isn't what you perceive it to be. We're Americans, too," tribal member Joe Dupuis was quoted as saying at another meeting last week.

The Interior expects to have a "funding agreement goal" and a "management agreement goal" ready for public review and comment by the end of this month. A "comprehensive conservation plan" won't be ready until January 2004.

PEER also sent a letter recently to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) about the bison range transfer.

Relevant Documents:
PEER Letter to Secretary Norton (June 9, 2003) | PEER Letter to Senator Burns (April 8, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes - http://www.cskt.org
National Bison Range - http://bisonrange.fws.gov
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - http://www.peer.org

Related Stories:
Tribal members defend takeover of bison range (6/4)
Group opposes tribal takeover of bison range (6/2)
Tribal takeover of bison range moving forward (05/20)
DOI wants Mont. tribe to manage bison range (5/16)

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: Violence against Native women is on the rise (10/24)
Morgan Howard: Corporate dividends confict with Tlingit values (10/24)
David Wilkins: Abandon the Doctrine of Discovery in Indian law (10/24)
Navajo Nation candidate Chris Deschene won't halt campaign (10/24)
Tribes receive $1.2M in Sovereignty in Indian Education funds (10/24)
Language preservation a top issue as AFN opens annual meet (10/24)
Rep. Don Young to speak to Alaska Natives amid controversy (10/24)
Think Progress: South Dakota county suppresses Native vote (10/24)
Opinion: Tribes turn their acumen to Internet lending industry (10/24)
Chickasaw Nation signs compact with state for license plates (10/24)
Federal judge won't be removed from Miccosukee Tribe's case (10/24)
Radio: NPS allowed destruction of tribal burial mounds in Iowa (10/24)
BIA announces intent to put Cowlitz Tribe gaming site in trust (10/24)
Feinstein opposes North Fork Rancheria off-reservation casino (10/24)
Salt River Tribe arrests man who left children in casino garage (10/24)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino could affect contributions (10/24)
Opinion: Shinnecock Nation's casino plans remain under cloud (10/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season (10/23)
Al Caroll: Recognize tribal sovereignty in new US Constitution (10/23)
Michael Baines: Senate candidate battles Alaska Native rights (10/23)
President Barack Obama urges early voting for Alaska Natives (10/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation woman named president of Girl Scouts board (10/23)
3rd Circuit won't force town to repatriate Jim Thorpe's remains (10/23)
Navajo Nation's top court orders new ballots without candidate (10/23)
Alaska Federation of Natives ready to open annual convention (10/23)
Alaska governor to sign Native languages bill six months later (10/23)
Rep. Don Young blames government 'largesse' for suicide rate (10/23)
Washington player says tattoo represents Cherokee heritage (10/23)
Crow Tribe seeks renewal of Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (10/23)
Native advocates come together to combat domestic violence (10/23)
Agua Caliente Band and DOJ submit briefs in water rights case (10/23)
Former health executive from Chippewa Cree Tribe sentenced (10/23)
Final person sentenced in theft from Blackfeet Nation program (10/23)
Opinion: Tribes exploit loopholes in America's political system (10/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe announces plans for new gaming facility (10/23)
Rival leaders of Chukchansi Tribe to meet amid casino closure (10/23)
Navajo Nation challenges lawsuit over death of casino patron (10/23)
Law Article: Judge restricts BIA authority in Class III dispute (10/23)
Column: Election won't end North Fork off-reservation casino (10/23)
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
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.