A wish list, and resolutions, for Dave Anderson
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Congratulations to "Famous" Dave Anderson for winning confirmation as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The agency needs someone like him -- an outsider, if you will, with no political or legal experience -- to bring in new ideas that will improve the lives of more than 1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives and their tribal governments.

But depending on when he's actually sworn in, he's got a lot of work to do in very little time, since the 2004 election is just a few short months away. With that in mind, here's Indianz.Com's Christmas Wish List / New Year's Resolutions for the incoming assistant secretary of Indian Affairs.

To: Dave Anderson
Re: To-Do List for 2004

1. Restart consultation on the land-into-trust regulations that Gale Norton and Neal McCaleb delayed, then put off, without offering an alternate solution. Tribes and individual Indians need firm deadlines on how their applications will be handled. Land is the basis of economic development, something that's right up your alley.

2. Finalize the off-reservation land-into-trust regulations, or fix them, whichever works better. Neal McCaleb reopened them in December of 2001 so it's been two years during which nothing has happened. You wouldn't let something go unresolved for this long in the business world.

3. Respect tribal leaders. Gale Norton has barely been to any Indian events in the past two years. Steve Griles has gone into hiding in an unsecure location. Aurene Martin keeps flying to Albuquerque only to leave before making her previously scheduled meetings. You should know better.

4. Work with NCAI/USET and the other national and regional tribal organizations. It's time to stop playing favorites with a few hand-picked tribal leaders. You have a responsibility to all of Indian Country not just the ones Gale Norton and her counselors/aides happen to like.

5. Schedule another one of those economic development summits. Yes, it was the tribes' idea, which Neal McCaleb promptly took credit for, but the BIA pulled it off well. Hold it somewhere warm.

6. Reconnect the BIA to the Internet. Your employees are tired of going upstairs to the Secretary's office, or downstairs to someone else's agency, just to read Indianz.Com. They want it from the privacy of their own cubicles. [Oh, and please redesign the BIA web site. Dom Nessi butchered it before he got fired/canned/resigned/transferred.]

7. Stop the bleeding of BIA programs/funds to OST and other places. If the reorganization is not the son of BITAM, as Jim Cason claimed a year ago this month, then it shouldn't be the greedy brother either.

8. Bring in your own team of aides and advisers. You're entitled to your own people, and the current bunch hasn't done anything positive in two years.

And finally,

9. Settle the Cobell lawsuit!

Good luck.

Relevant Links:
Famous Daves -
LifeSkills Center for Leadership -

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