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
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
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:
Tribes rest easy as Supreme Court wraps up a surprising session (6/24)
Tribes in northern California take action to protect salmon runs (6/24)
Aaron Payment re-elected as chairman of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe (6/24)
Gun Lake Tribe hosts annual Sweet Grass Moon Powwow in July (6/24)
Native Sun News: First Native hockey referee 'Butchy' passes on (6/24)
Delphine Red Shirt: Lakota people denied voting rights on our land (6/24)
Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar (6/24)
Terese Mailhot: Becoming a better ally after the Orlando shooting (6/24)
April Youpee-Roll: Elizabeth Warren owes more to Indian Country (6/24)
Another land-into-trust fix reportedly being drafted in the Senate (6/24)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (6/24)
Non-Indian charged for trespassing at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico (6/24)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (6/24)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe breaks ground on $34M expansion at casino (6/24)
Non-Indian gaming firm loses challenge to law for new tribal casino (6/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes to finish demolition work at site of old racetrack (6/24)
Supreme Court deadlocks in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (6/23)
Matthew Fletcher: 'Huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system (6/23)
Native American Basketball Invitational draws top talent to Arizona (6/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe almost done with long-awaited theater (6/23)
Susanville Rancheria thanks lawmakers for help with land-into-trust (6/23)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on three bills (6/23)
Supreme Court backs affirmative action policy in long-running case (6/23)
Native Sun News: Senate committee takes on Indian Health Service (6/23)
Mark Trahant: A Republican plan to terminate Indian Health Service (6/23)
James Giago Davies: Welfare for corporations but nothing for tribes (6/23)
Peter d'Errico: Justice Clarence Thomas critiques federal Indian law (6/23)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
White House defends fracking regulation imposed on Indian lands (6/23)
Mescalero Apache woman hosts fundraiser for Miss United States (6/23)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to collect sales tax on entire reservation (6/23)
Seneca-Cayuga Nation ordered to conduct another council election (6/23)
Poarch Creek land-into-trust bill could help casino effort in Florida (6/23)
Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas (6/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation told to turn over casino-related documents (6/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee debates marijuana & sovereignty (6/22)
Major trust reform bill supported by Indian Country signed into law (6/22)
President Obama signs land-into-trust bill for Susanville Rancheria (6/22)
Chairman Jim Boyd from Colville Tribes passes away at age of 60 (6/22)
Tribes take more control of their land with HEARTH Act regulations (6/22)
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community adds another 128 acres (6/22)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge Reservation graduates celebrate (6/22)
Native Sun News: Year of Reconciliation sees another anniversary (6/22)
Former Fond du Lac Band chairman Peter Defoe passes on at 77 (6/22)
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.