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

printer friendly version
Tribes lobbying against 'harmful' appropriations riders
Monday, November 10, 2003

Provisions to deny funding to Alaska Native tribal courts, force the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pay for tribal trust lawsuits and require yet another report on Indian gaming are contained in appropriations legislation under debate in the U.S. Congress.

The Commerce, Justice and State (CJS) appropriations act isn't usually an area ripe for meddling in Indian affairs. But lawmakers in the House and Senate have inserted language deemed "harmful" by both the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA).

Both organizations are lobbying to have the provisions removed before the bill makes it to President Bush's desk. The timing is up in the air -- Republican leaders hope to wrap up work on the measure, along with 9 other appropriations bills, by Thanksgiving, but prospects are dimming as the holiday approaches.

The Senate is set to take up the CJS bill this week. Its version contains a provision that forbids the Department of Justice from providing federal funds to Alaska Native tribal law enforcement and court systems and another that requires the BIA to use at least $3.1 million in Indian program money to pay for government lawyers battling 21 tribal mismanagement lawsuits.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has taken credit -- or the blame -- for the tribal court rider. With not enough resources to spread around more than 220 Native villages, he says the money should go to the state of Alaska. Native leaders are opposing the proposal and say it is an attack on their sovereignty.

No one has stepped forward to take the fall for the tribal trust rider, which reimburses DOJ for its defense of the lawsuits, most of which are not in active litigation but are in various stages of mediation and informal discussions. Sources in and out of Congress said the White House pushed for some sort of language in this area. The White House was behind a rider to delay a court-ordered accounting of individual Indian trust funds in another appropriations bill awaiting President Bush's signature.

NCAI President Tex Hall and other tribal leaders have spoken out against the use of Indian program money to pay for problems they say the federal government created. The $3.1 million identified by the CJS rider is nearly the entire budget of the BIA's economic development office.

As for the House, its version contains language directing DOJ to provide a report on what it is doing to combat "possible illegal activity" within the $14 billion Indian gaming industry. It was inserted by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who chairs the House subcommittee in charge of the CJS bill and is a noted foe of all forms of gambling.

Last summer, Wolf and his colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee suffered a major defeat when a study he sought of Indian gaming was killed on the House floor. NIGA, which represents more than 150 tribes with casinos, is again taking the lead to remove or change this rider.

Elsewhere in the CJS bill, there are cuts for Indian Country. Grants for prison construction, courts and alcohol and substance abuse have been reduced by $4.5 million to $13 million in the House version. The Senate version provides $18 million.

The tribal law enforcement account, which is used for officer hiring and technology programs, has been cut by $4.7 million to $30 million in the House version. The Senate bill provides $20 million.

The explanation of the tribal court rider reads:
The Committee notes that the Department of Justice and other Federal agencies have provided grants to tribes in Alaska for courts, police officers, and law enforcement equipment. Because the previous administration recognized 227 separate tribes in Alaska, there are not sufficient funds for each tribe to have its own court system and police force. Therefore, the Committee has included a general provision in the bill clarifying that funds should not be made available to tribes in Alaska for courts or police until a more efficient delivery system can be developed such as consolidation. However, to ensure that judicial services continue in Alaska Native villages, the funds that have previously been granted to tribes will now be allocated to the State of Alaska to increase magistrates and fund the Village Public Safety Officer Program until such system can be developed.
The language for the tribal trust rider states:
At least 21 lawsuits have been filed by Indian Tribes seeking billions of dollars for alleged mismanagement of Tribal assets by the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA]. Some of the cases seek an order requiring the United States to perform multi-million dollar, multi-year accounting, and others seek a money judgment for losses the Tribes claim they have suffered. The Committee believes additional resources to defend against this litigation are essential, but believes they should be paid for by BIA and not the Department. Accordingly, the Committee directs the Environment and Natural Resources Division [ENRD] to seek reimbursement of not less than $3,060,000 by BIA not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act.
The Indian gaming report provision reads:
The Committee remains concerned with possible illegal activity associated with gambling casinos on Native American reservations, and directs the Justice Department to submit a report to the Committee by October 12, 2003 describing all ongoing Justice Department efforts with regard to this issue.

CJS Bills and Conference Reports:
H.R.2799 | H.Rept.108-221 | S1585 | S.Rept.108-144

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org
National Indian Gaming Association - http://www.indiangaming.org

Related Stories:
Congress clears Indian funding in budget bill (11/4)
Stevens unapologetic in speech to Alaska Natives (10/27)
Stevens remarks on Alaska Natives draw fire (10/7)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Blackfeet Nation citizens approve historic water rights settlement (4/21)
Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River Sioux woman still walking (4/21)
James Giago Davies: Our future is not bleak but bright with promise (4/21)
Rosalyn LaPier: Tradition blends with science in tribal communities (4/21)
Simon Moya-Smith: Media continues to peddle in Indian stereotypes (4/21)
Steven Newcomb: Bill in California dehumanizes indigenous peoples (4/21)
American Indian Library Association battles Trump's big budget cut (4/21)
Navajo Nation citizen faces death penalty for murder of tribal officer (4/21)
Meskwaki Tribe diversifies economy with barbecue sauces and more (4/21)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must keep fighting despite gaming win (4/21)
Native Sun News Today: Body of missing Cheyenne River man found (4/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: True tribal histories are concealed in America (4/20)
Steve Russell: Thoughts about sovereignty and tribal governments (4/20)
Dwanna Robertson: Dispelling a common myth about tribal gaming (4/20)
Whiteclay liquor stores ordered to shut down after losing licenses (4/20)
Cherokee Nation blames pharmaceutical industry for opioid crisis (4/20)
Eastern Cherokee citizens back chief amid call for impeachment (4/20)
North Carolina woman punished for abducting Cherokee children (4/20)
Ramapough Lenape Nation denied permit for anti-pipeline camp (4/20)
Ho-Chunk Nation remains confident as rival tribe sues over casino (4/20)
Nottawaseppi Huron Band invests casino funds in unique project (4/20)
Pechanga Band reaches midway point of $285M casino expansion (4/20)
More data needed to address human trafficking in Indian Country (4/19)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee set for 1st field oversight hearing (4/19)
Navajo Nation Council rejects bill to change name to 'Dine Nation' (4/19)
Non-Indian tenant loses bid to stay on Colorado River Reservation (4/19)
Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River citizen opens bookstore (4/19)
Cheyenne-Arapaho citizen honored for law enforcement service (4/19)
Cronkite News: Attorney General links sanctuary cities to gangs (4/19)
Anna Hohag: Bringing indigenous science to water management (4/19)
Dakota Access Pipeline announces May 14 as first date of service (4/19)
Fort Peck Tribes finally gain access to federal criminal databases (4/19)
Mohegan Tribe wins approval to develop site of former hospital (4/19)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sues to stop expansion of rival casino (4/19)
Cowlitz Tribe enters law enforcement deal as casino debut nears (4/19)
Trump administration faces test as tribes clash over new casino (4/18)
Attorney General vows help for public safety in Indian Country (4/18)
Zinke cites 'heart-breaking' crime rates against Native women (4/18)
Bill brings funding for AMBER Alert systems to Indian Country (4/18)
Native Sun News Today: Paper moves closer to Native readers (4/18)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Looking at racism through some new eyes (4/18)
Secretary Zinke won't return land taken from Salish and Kootenai (4/18)
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.