indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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:
Tim Giago: An independent candidate awakens 'Party' zombies (9/22)
Mark Trahant: Huge crowd turns out for People's Climate March (9/22)
Doug George-Kanentiio: All children are gifts from the Creator (9/22)
Native Sun News: Native women take stand against violence (9/22)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe heads into election (9/22)
Navajo Nation to announce trust fund settlement this Friday (9/22)
S.E. Ruckman: A remarkable day with arrival of Cobell checks (9/22)
Jon Tester: Bill protects Special Diabetes Program for Indians (9/22)
Ron Allen: Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe keeps workers engaged (9/22)
Dante Desiderio: Working together to address tribal tax issue (9/22)
Vena A-dae Romero: Asserting sovereignty through our food (9/22)
Mark Rogers: Leadership in Native America is at a crossroads (9/22)
Dave Lundgren: BIA must take a closer look at rights-of-way (9/22)
Peter d'Errico: Video uses humor to battle racist NFL mascot (9/22)
Opinion: Racist sports mascots preserve 'imaginary' Indians (9/22)
Justice Sotomayor studied Indian law after joining top court (9/22)
House subcommittee holds hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/22)
Colville Tribes participate in repatriation ceremony in Canada (9/22)
Shinnecock Nation tightens regulation of tobacco businesses (9/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe won't share casino revenue (9/22)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe can't offer poker games pending appeal (9/22)
Lytton Band might purchase property next to gaming facility (9/22)
Nottawaseppi Huron Band reopens casino after electrical fire (9/22)
Guilty verdict in robbery of Saginaw Chippewa casino winner (9/22)
Editorial: Poarch Creek gaming deal deserves consideration (9/22)
Native Sun News: Tribes united against Keystone XL Pipeline (9/19)
Regina Brave: The earth that once was will soon be no more (9/19)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)
Cobell settlement checks being cashed across Indian Country (9/19)
Congress passes measure for tribal general welfare programs (9/19)
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
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.