The flurry of activity is not entirely unusual during a presidential transition. In late 2016 and early 2017, for instance, the Bureau of Indian Affairs began consultation on a key economic development proposal, one that was — and still is — widely supported by tribes and their advocates. But the level to which the outgoing administration has been outlining new proposals for Indian Country is unheard of in the age of self-determination and respect for tribal sovereignty. The move to stack the deck at the NIGC, for example, comes after the agency that oversees the $34.6 billion Indian gaming industry was all but ignored by Trump and the White House over the past four years. Yet even as they attempt to impose their own agenda on the first Americans, Trump, who was just impeached for a second time in connection with his role in the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol last week, and his team can’t resist rehashing old wounds. When asked about their role in ensuring an orderly transfer of power to Biden, a key White House official decided it was time to take a shot at Barack Obama, accusing the popular two-term president of not even leaving behind a list of tribal leader contacts. “We want to make sure we leave things better than we found it,” Doug Hoelscher, the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which acts as a liaison between tribal governments and the president, told tribal leaders only a day after the criminal riot at the nation’s capital led to his boss’s impeachment.
Donald Trump is on his way out but he's determined to leave his mark on Indian Country.— indianz.com (@indianz) January 13, 2021
Jeannie Hovland (Flandreau Santee Sioux) is set to join National Indian Gaming Commission, leaving 2 out of 3 seats in hands of Trump appointees.
Comments due TODAY.https://t.co/IRUAqPUysm pic.twitter.com/6HZB3ssm3a
Trump’s last-minute entanglements, however, won’t make life any better for Deb Haaland, who is making history as the first Native person to serve in a modern-day presidential cabinet. Should she be confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, the Democratic lawmaker, who won a second term in office representing New Mexico’s 1st congressional district, will be inheriting a bureaucratic mess from her predecessor. One of the biggest blunders of the last four years has been a proposal to update the Licensed Indian Traders (25 CFR 140). Early on in the Trump era, tribes were extremely encouraged when the BIA advanced new rules aimed at keeping Indian money in Indian hands, instead of having revenues go to states and local governments in the form of taxes. But after David Bernhardt joined Interior as Deputy Secretary in August 2017, the popular proposal was left in regulatory limbo. No reason was ever given but it quickly became clear that his arrival in Washington had something to do with it. “I’m not convinced that we are moving forward with those,” Bernhardt told tribal leaders in October of that year, only two months after coming on board. Just to keep matters confusing, he added: “I’m not convinced that we won’t.”
A SINKING SHIP— indianz.com (@indianz) January 8, 2021
A day after his boss incited riot at US Capitol, this White House official lashed out at Obama admin in call with tribal leaders today.
"We want to make sure we leave things better than we found it,” this official said, blind to violence caused by Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/sVigLl9ozP
When I accepted the nomination to be Secretary of Interior, I did so on the shoulders of my ancestors & all who have come before me in this fight. I stand ready to serve & address the issues facing our country, public lands, & tribal nations. I look forward to the work ahead. pic.twitter.com/LVCWA0NWsX— Deb Haaland (@DebHaalandNM) January 10, 2021
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