Norton gave Griles credit for trust reform task force

Tex Hall, the former president of the National Congress of American Indians, chided former Interior Secretary Gale Norton for crediting the trust reform task force to J. Steven Griles.

Hall and other tribal leaders proposed the task force when the Bush administration announced plans to strip the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its trust duties in November 2001. After a consultation session in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December, Norton accepted NCAI's idea to create the task force.

But in a letter to the judge who will sentence Griles for lying to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Norton said her former deputy "put together" the task force. "It is hard to believe that ex-Secretary Norton has to make up some of Steve Griles' defense for him," Hall said.

"Although she gives Griles credit for putting together the Trust Reform Task Force, in reality it was the us in the National Congress of American Indians and tribal leaders from across the country who proposed the task force in good faith so we could have an honest process for government to government consultation," he said.

Griles served as one of two federal co-chairs of the task force but the NCAI leadership came up with list of tribal leaders who served on the panel. They included two representatives from 12 regions of Indian Country.

In her letter, Norton said Griles tried "again and again" to address tribal concerns but lamented that the reorganization proposals were "ultimately blocked or rejected by one group or another." She does not mention it was the Interior Department that walked away from the task force in September 2002 at a meeting in suburban Washington, D.C, though she praises Griles for buying food for "late night and weekend work sessions."

Hall said "it comes as somewhat of a relief to know that the complexities of the local Chinese take-out and pizza delivery menus were no match for Griles' 'considerable problem-solving skills.'"

Letter to Judge Huvelle:
Gale Norton

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Bush officials break with tribes on trust (9/27)
Tribes continue assault on Norton plan (12/14)

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