BITAM consultation being held in Calif.
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Tribal leaders have gathered in San Diego, California, today in advance of meeting with Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb over a proposed reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

An informal meeting is being held this afternoon on a task force composed of tribal leaders. The panel is forming alternatives to the proposal to remove trust duties from the BIA and hand them to a new agency that would be called the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management (BITAM).

Tribal leaders unanimously oppose the new agency and have been submitting their own plans. Creating of a new Indian affairs department and realignment of trust duties within the BIA itself are the highlights of the offerings.

Tribes have been coordinating their assault on the plan since it was announced mid-November and have succeeded in slowing down the process. Secretary Norton had initially wanted $300 million reprogrammed for BITAM and all written comments completed by this week.

Norton has acknowledged her process, developed without tribal input, was flawed, according to Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians. Hall met with Norton and McCaleb yesterday and said the session was very productive.

Hall said Norton has committed to following more closely the executive order on tribal consultation that was drafted by the Clinton administration, reaffirmed in November 2000, and the BIA's government-to-government policy.

McCaleb's meeting tomorrow is being held at the Hanalei Red Lion Hotel, 2270 Hotel Circle North in San Diego. It will start a 9 a.m. after a one-hour tribal caucus.

Future meetings are set for Anchorage, Alaska, on January 23. The location is the Hilton Anchorage on 500 West 3rd Street.

The location of a Washington, D.C.-area, meeting on February 1 is the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, in Arlington, Virginia. The hotel is accessible via the Crystal City Metro.

A meeting in Portland, Oregon, is planned for February 14 but BIA officials have not finalized a location. Future meetings are planned for Billings, Montana, and Window Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton effort 'too little, too late' (1/16)
Interior shutdown still unresolved (1/16)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Trust Reform, NCAI -

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