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Head of Original Americans Foundation tied to BIA misspending

Washington Post Video: Gary Edwards discusses Original Americans Foundation.

The head of the new "Original Americans Foundation" was criticized for contributing to the waste of $1 million in federal funds.

Gary L. Edwards, a member of the Cherokee Nation, serves as chief executive officer of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association. In 2012, the Inspector General at the Interior Department said he failed to deliver qualified recruits for the Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement program.

"When NNALEA’s CEO proposed significant modifications to the statement of work, BIA officials simply accepted them in part because they said that they were under pressure to get the contract out," the report said. Indianz.Com first provided an account of the report in May 2012.

The OIG redacted Edwards' name from the report but it's clear that it refers to him. He defended his work in a statement released by the Washington football team, which hired the Cherokee man to serve as CEO of the new foundation.

"The NNALEA believes it met and exceeded all of its obligations under the contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Justice Services, and subsequently was paid after the contract was completed," the team said in a statement to USA Today.

The Oneida Nation of New York, however, said Edwards' involvement in the contract and in the foundation raises questions. The tribe is leading the Change the Mascot campaign.

“This is part of a disturbing, but hardly surprising pattern of behavior by team owner Dan Snyder and his team," Ray Halbritter, the tribe's representative, said in a press release. "Mr. Snyder first insisted that using a dictionary defined racial slur is a way to honor Native Americans. He then hired a former associate of notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who helped bilk Native Americans, and selected a person who financially harmed Native Americans to run a foundation to defend his team’s name. These aren’t accidents, but part of a systematic campaign to denigrate Native Americans by a team owner who will stop at nothing to keep the team’s offensive name.”

Get the Story:
Redskins foundation head drew criticism in I.G. report (USA Today 3/28)
CEO of new Washington Redskins foundation connected to ‘defective’ federal contract (The Washington Post 3/28)

OIG Report:
Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Law Enforcement Recruitment Services Contract with the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (May 9, 2012)

Prior OIG Report:
Bureau of Indian Affairs' Contract With the National Native American Law Enforcement Association Contract No. CBK00090002 (February 2010)

Related Stories:
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Opinion: About that letter from Washington football team owner (3/27)
Cherokee man serves as CEO of 'Original Americans Foundation' (3/26)
Column: Dan Snyder's new charity comes with strings attached (3/26)
Editorial: Helping Native people means changing racist mascot (3/26)
NCAI calls foundation a 'publicity stunt' by football team owner (3/25)
Football team owner announces 'Original Americans Foundation' (3/25)
NPR Ombudsman: Limit use of Washington football team name (03/21)
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DaShanne Stokes: Racist Americans cling to football mascot (3/17)
Navajo Nation leaders speak out against 'disparaging' mascots (3/14)
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