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Reforming and downsizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs : hearing before the Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, March 8, 1995, Washington, DC online

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S. Hrg. 104-38


Y 4. IN 2/11: S. HRG. 104-38 ^ ^

Reforning and Dounsizing the Bureau...




MARCH 8, 1995

AUG 1 4 ,5^^

89-695 CC WASraNGTON : 1995

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-047249-0

\ S. Hrg. 104-38


Y 4. IN 2/1 1:S, HRG. 104-38 ' ^^^^^

Reforning and Dounsizing the Bureau...




MARCH 8, 1995

AUG ; 4 ,5^^

89-695 CC WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-047249-0


JOHN McCain, Arizona, Chairman
DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Vice Chairman


SLADE GORTON, Washington HARRY RE7D, Nevada






Steven J.W. Heeley Majority Staff Director I Chief Counsel
Patricu M. Zell, Minority Staff Director I Chief Counsel




Allen, Ron, Chairman, Jamestown Band of STClaUam Indians, Sequim,

WA 12

Anderson, Michael J., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs,

Department of the Interior 5

Babbitt, Bruce, Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior ... 5

Deer, Ada, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the

Interior 5

Domenici, Hon. Pete V., U.S. Senator from New Mexico 4

MakU, Ivan, President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community,

Scottsdale, AZ 10

McCain, Hon. John, U.S. Senator from Arizona, chairman, Conmiittee

on Indian Affairs 1

Washakie, John, Fort Washakie, WA 15


Prepared statements:

Allen, Ron 177

Anderson, Marge, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians 214

Babbitt, Bruce 29

Belgarde, Peter, Chairperson, Devils Lake Sioux Tribe and the United

TVibes Of North Dakota (with attachment) 222

Campbell, Hon. Ben Nighthorse, U.S. Senator from Colorado 28

Dorgan, Hon. Byron L., U.S. Senator from North Dakota 28

George, Keller, President, United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (with

attachments) 230

Gipp, David M., President, United Tribes Technical College (with attach-
ment) 222

Inouye, Hon. Daniel K., U.S. Senator from Hawaii, vice chairman. Com-
mittee on Indian Affairs 27

Makil, Ivan 31

Manatowa, Elmer, Principal Clhief, Sac and Fox Nation 247

MankiUer, Wilma, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation 250

Washakie, John (with attachments) 181

Additional material submitted for the record:

CRS report 33

Meirtin, Phillip, Tribal Chief, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (let-
ter) ; 32




U.S. Senate,
Committee on Indian Affairs,

Washington, DC.
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:34 p.m. in room 485,
Senate Russell Building, Hon. John McCain (chairman of the com-
mittee) presiding.
Present: Senators McCain, Inouye, Domenici, and Dorgan.


The Chairman. This hearing will come to order.

I would like to welcome the witnesses here today for our first
hearing on the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] reorganization. I
would also like to welcome my good friend, the Secretary of the In-
terior, Secretary Babbitt. I am very pleased that he was able to join
us and share his thoughts on the reform of the BIA, I look forward
to his comments.

Let me start out by saying that I am committed to bring real and
substantive change to the BIA. I will endeavor to work with Indian
tribes and tribal organizations to bring about this necessary change
in the BIA. I will seek the cooperation and support of the Secretary
in implementing these necessary changes. I am convinced that we
will not carry out meaningful changes unless we work together. I
have every confidence that we will.

I will begin this process by introducing legislation which reflects
the views of a majority of tribes across this Nation and which im-
plements the tribal recommendations contained in the Joint Tribal/
BIA/DOI Reorganization Task Force Report.

There may be some here inclined to resist change. Let me paint
you a picture. Indian families are living in poverty at nearly three
times the national average. Nearly one of every three Native Amer-
icans in this Nation is living in poverty. One-half of Indian house-
holds headed by a female are living in poverty. One-half of the In-
dian children imder the age of 6 living on reservations are living
in poverty. For every $100 earned by U.S. families, Indian families
earn $62, The per capita income for an Indian living on the res-
ervation is $4,478. As these statistics bear out, poverty in Indian
country is an everyday reality that pervades every aspect of Indian


In this country, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide
homes for our loved ones, but in Indian country a good safe home
is a rare commodity. There are approximately 90,000 Indian fami-
lies who are homeless or underhoused. Nearly one in five Indian
families living on the reservation are classified as "severely over-
crowded". One-third of the 112,000 Indian families living on the
reservation are classified as crowded. One out of every five Indian
homes lack complete plumbing facilities. These simple conveniences
that the rest of us take for granted remain out of the grasp of
many Indian famihes.

This administration has focused a great amount of energy on re-
forming the Nation's health care system over the last 2 years. Yet
if there is a real need for reform in health care delivery, we need
only look to the health status of Native Americans in our Nation.
The mortality rate for Native Americans for tuberculosis exceeds
the national average by 400 percent. The mortality rate for diabe-
tes exceeds the national average by 139 percent. American Indians
are four times more Ukely to die from alcoholism than other Ameri-
cans. The incidence rates for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome among Native
Americans is six times the national average. By any measure, the
health status of Native Americans lags significantly behind any
other segment of our population.

Throughout history, American Indians and Alaska Natives have
relied on the BIA as the principal agency of the Federal Govern-
ment to meet this Nation's trust obligations to Native Americans.
I mi^ht add the Federal Congress. Yet. based on their own studies
and mvestigations, the BIA nas failed miserably to carryout this
Nation's solemn obligations to American Indians.

In acting as the trustee for Indian tribes and their members, the
BIA has Tailed to meet even minimal fiduciary obligations in the
management of Indian trust fiinds. Over $2.1 billion in Indian
trust mnds cannot be accurately reconciled. It will cost the Federal
Grovemment over $390 million just to reconcile the trust fund ac-
counts. Grovemment auditors report that there are $1.9 billion
worth of construction project costs which cannot be reconciled. It
has also been reported that over $3.2 billion in BIA assets cannot
be accounted for.

As a financial manager, the BIA has failed miserably. It has
been estimated that through mismanagement and poor invest-
ments the BIA has lost between $25 and $30 million of tribal and
individual Indian moneys.

As the trustee responsible for the education of Indian children,
the BIA has been shamefully neglectful. The Inspector Greneral re-
ports that many BIA schools are in a state of disrepair and are
poorly maintained. They report that even today there are Indian
children sitting in classrooms in school buildings that have been
condemned. Indian children in the care and custody of BIA board-
ing schools are living in dormitories which are described by the In-
spector General as "iminhabitable".

Recent reports on fire protection at BIA schools show that many
schools in me southwest have completely inadequate fire equip-
ment. From antique fire trucks that lack any hoses, axes, and other
safety equipment to failing fire alarms systems and smoke detec-
tors, the health and safety of hundreds of'^Indian children each day

are at risk. At other locations, entire Indian communities rely on
wholly untrained firemen to respond to emergencies without any
safety equipment or protective gear. The fire protection plan for
many of these BIA scnools is to evacuate the premises and watch
it bum to the ground. As the guardian and custodian of Indian
children, the BIA has been criminally negligent.

The long history of the failings of the Federal GrOvemment to car-
ryout its responsibilities to American Indians brings new meaning
to the phrase "a parade of horribles". I am convinced that we will
not make significant impacts on the terrible conditions on most res-
ervations without a major reform in the BIA.

Let me repeat, I am committed to bringing real reform to the
BIA. I understand that with each shift of the political winds, there
has been another attempt to reform the BIA. But to simply allow
this parade of failure to continue is unacceptable.

From the first reorganization efforts in 1834 through the Meriam
Report in 1929 to the Joint Tribal/BIA/DOI Task Force Report on
BIA Reorganization there has been report after report detailing
how the BIA should be reformed. Like the crusades of history, with
each change in Administration the assembled bureaucrats have
gone charging off in one direction or another, commissioning stud-
ies or writing reports on the BIA, downsizing, centralizing, or de-
centralizing whatever the political whim of the dictates. In fact,
since the establishment of the BIA in 1824, there have been over
1,050 investigations, reports, commissions, and studies detailing
how the BIA should be restructured, reorganized, or reformed.

The CRS report I will have entered into the record at this time.
It is just a listing of the over 1,050 investigations, reports, commis-
sions, and studies.

[Document appears in appendix.]

The Chairman. For all our efforts to reform the BIA and to im-
prove the conditions on most Indian reservations in this Nation, we
need just look at the statistics in the recent census to see our fail-
ures. I am prepared to join with the tribes to bring about real
change in the BIA. I will begin this process by developing legisla-
tion which implements the tribal recommendations of the Joint
Tribal/BIA/DOI Reorganization Task Force.

This approach is consistent with the commitment which Senator
Inouye and I have repeatedly made to the tribes and reflects the
persistent urging of the tribes for the Federal Government to work
with them to arrive at sensible solutions to the their problems. In
1961, at a meeting in Chicago of over 400 tribal leaders, that re-
quest was eloquently renewed in this urgent appeal:

The answers we seek are not commodities to be purchased. When Indians speak
of the continent they yielded, they are not referring only to the loss of some millions
of acres in real estate. They have in mind that tne land supported a universe of
things they knew, valued, and loved.

With that continent gone, except for the few poor parcels they still retain, the
basis of life is precariously held; out they mean to hold the scraps and parcels as
earnestly as every small nation or ethnic group was ever determined to hold identity
and survival.

What we ask of America is not charity, not paternalism, even when benevolent.
We ask only that the nature of our situation be recognized and made the basis of
policy and action.

The recommendations of the Joint Tribal/BIA/DOI Reorganiza-
tion Task Force are not new, in fact a careful review of the four

major reports on the BIA show that many of these recommenda-
tions have been around since 1929. The Meriam Report in 1929
identified the poverty of American Indians as the chief problem fac-
ing the Administration. Like each subsequent report and rec-
ommendation, from the Hoover Commission to the American In-
dian Policy Review Commission, the Meriam Report recommended
that the BIA's principal focus be the social and economic advance-
ment of American Indians to achieve **a minimum standard of
health and decency".

The report recommended the development of a "well-rounded
educational program" that included a health promotion component.
Finally, the Meriam Report ui^ed that the BIA be reorganized to
provide maximum administrative control and responsibility to the
local superintendent. If these recommendations sound familiar to
Indian tribes, they should, because it as been the mantra we have
heard from tribal leaders for nearly 70 years. It is time to put an
end to the string of Federal failures, to give Indian tribes the keys
to a better future by providing the authority directly to the tribes
to design both the structure and function of its trustee, the BLA
It is time to heed the message of the last 70 years by breaking
down the barriers to true tribal self-governance and self-determina-
tion. And let me assure you, I am prepared to be the hammer.

Again, I appreciate the witnesses and other tribal leaders in at-
tendance today and I look forward to hearing your testimony. I
very much appreciate the personal commitment and dedication our
first witness has shown to Indian issues and concerns over his long
career of public service. As I have stated earlier, I believe that we
an only accomplish real change in the administration of Indian af-
fairs if Congress acts with the cooperation and support of Indian
tribes and the administration.

Mr. Secretary, I have had the privilege of working closely with
you in the past. I look forward to the opportunity of working closely
with you to reorganize the BIA to improve the administration of In-
dian programs. I welcome your views and insights on this impor-
tant initiative.

And I appreciate your patience as I went through an unusually
long and perhaps record-breaking opening statement that I am not
accustomed to doing. I thought it would be important since this
was one of a series of hearings that I give a certain amount of illu-
mination to what I believe the gravity of the problem is.

I would like to point out that Bruce Babbitt is accompanied by
Ada Deer, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and Michael
J. Anderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

We welcome you here today. I expect Senator Inouye. Perhaps
when he comes m we could have his opening remarks.

Senator Domenici.



Senator Domenici. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I |fot
here for enough of your remarks to know that I don't need to gfive

I support what you have said and am very concerned about the
status of reorganization and clearly want to see what we can do to

be constructive. I have talked to the leaders who have put this re-
organization plan together. I am very encouraged by it and very
supportive of it. You can count me on board as we try to do some
reorganizing that is really meaningful and empowering the Indian
tribes and people to have more control over their destiny.

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for coming.

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator Domenici.

Welcome, Secretary Babbitt.


Mr. Babbitt. Mr. Chairman, Senator Domenici, it is a pleasure
to come back to this newly constituted committee. I believe that I
share the opinion of every leader in Indian country that as the po-
litical winds inevitably shift and are reflected in new majority lead-
ership that your ascension to the post of chairman is an important
and very favorable portent of the future. I would only add person-
ally on the basis of the many years we have worked together, both
here and Arizona, I am very grateful for the opportunity on a per-
sonal level to work with you and see if we can't continue the bipar-
tisan efforts that we are undertaking and that are so much a tradi-
tion of the work of this committee.

If I might, Mr. Chairman, I would like to simply submit my
opening statement for the record and reflect very briefly on some
of the issues that are before us.

The Chairman. Without objection, your prepared statement will
appear in the record.

Mr. Babbitt. Certainly the centerpiece of much of our discussion
in Indian country over the last few months has been the reorga-
nization report of the Task Force and the streamlining proposal
that was put forward by the BIA as a sort of confluence of many
different things — imperatives from the Office of Management and
Budget, the National Performance Review process, and a whole va-
riety of other things.

As the reorganization proposal is laid on the table and the BIA
streamlining proposal — I had occasion in December and January to
take to the field and do some consultation with tribal leaders. The
response that I got to the Bureau's streamlining proposal was not
overwhelming by any means. I think that is a charitable character-
ization of the tribal —

The Chairman. You mean not overwhelmingly supportive?

Mr. Babbitt. That's correct. It was a very contentious kind of re-
sponse, especially concerns about the proposed reorganization of
area and agency offices across the Nation. I personally discussed
those with the California tribes in Palm Springs, with the Arizona
tribes in Phoenix, and the Oklahoma tribes in Oklahoma City.

Ada Deer has been out on 11 separate occasions during the
month of January and also heard many of the same concerns.

Having said that, there is in fact a large area of common agree-
ment between the Bureau and the Reorganization Task Force.

Nonetheless, it is my judgment and my decision that the Bureau
should withdraw the streamlining proposal. I in fact instructed
them to withdraw the proposal, to put it on the shelf for the bal-
ance of this session of the Congress, and in effect to clear the field
for myself, Ada, Mike Anderson, and the BIA to work with this
committee and invoke your good offices in a triangular discussion
between the committee, the BIA, and Indian country to see if we
can move toward a consensus framework which would be to the ex-
tent you consider it appropriately reflected in legislation.

Let me just say that I very much look forward to that process.
I believe that if we all put our minds to it we can find a positive
and acceptable conclusion to this reorganization process.

In the meantime, as we go forward with that process, I have said
to the BIA that the task at hand administratively for us is to con-
tinue moving on self-governance and the self-determination con-
tracts that flow from 638. I am especially eager to that because I
have said to the tribes that if we continue that process, some of the
answers to these reorganization questions may well flow out of the
continuing devolution of responsibilities in self-government com-
pacts. It may be that as we continue that process there will be
some answers to these organizational issues that are perhaps ob-
scure or not so obvious right now.

Now just a few words ^out the self-governance and the contract-
ing process. The Tribal Self-Grovemance Act, which was passed last
October, imposed a number of tasks and deadlines on the BIA.
First of all, it set a target for 20 additional tribes to enter the self-
governance process each year, including this upcoming year.

To start that off, we have discussed a negotiated rulemaking
process with the self-governance tribes. Under the permission
granted by that legislation, they have requested negotiated rule-
making. I have asked Mike Anderson and several otners to begin
that process and the Register notice has been sent out to begin the
negotiated rulemaking process.

We were also asked in that legislation to forward to Congpress a
list of eligible non-BIA programs to expand the self-determination
contracting process outward from the BIA. That list is now before
this committee and its counteipart in the House. We have identi-
fied, as provided in the legislation, a number of specific contracting
opportimities in the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks
Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the other Interior
agencies. We are prepared, in consmtation with the committees, to
move forward on that as mandated by the legislation.

Last, a word about the trust fund administration. Again, there
was legislation last year — ^and we are moving expeditiously to car-
ryout the provisions of that legislation, including the selection of a
special assistant secretary level person to oversee those efforts. I
have sent a recommendation to the White House. I have shared
that with the chairman. It is only a recommendation to the White

Mr. Chairman, I would say to this committee that I believe the
most important issue of trust fund administration is simply this:
the Interior Department has no business in the trust fimd process.
The notion that the Department of the Interior should oversee the
investment of $2 billion in trust funds is to me just an incredible

concept. I have to tell you as Secretary of the Interior that what
I know about trust fund administration is probably less than any-
body in this room. It is not an appropriate function for my Depart-

I hope that as a priority item this year we could move toward
legislation which would in concept say the following: that for those
tribes that want Federal trust fund administration, the Depart-
ment of the Treasury is the appropriate place to put those funds
as mandated by legislation, for those tribes that want to administer
their own trust funds, they should have that option. But in neither
case should the Department of the Interior be a direct participant
in that process except perhaps to help with the heirship and trust-
ee entitlement accounting.

With that, I would be happy to pursue this discussion in which-
ever direction you would care.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

[Prepared statement of Secretary Babbitt appears in appendix.]

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

Before I turn to Senator Inouye, wouldn't we have to reconcile
those trust funds before we did that?

Mr. Babbitt. Mr. Chairman, I don't believe so. That would be
ideal. And there should be a deadline to reconciliation. But I be-
lieve that you can do both at the same time. It is highly appro-
priate to take the corpus of the money and send it to the Treasury
Department and say "Administer, invest, and hold these funds and
we will be back with a reconciliation in short order."

The Chairman, Senator Inouye.

Senator Inouye. Mr. Chairman, first my apologies for being late.
As you know, we are presently considering the Defense supple-
mental appropriations bill. So I wish to join you in welcoming Sec-
retary Babbitt to this hearing. I ask that my statement be made
a part of the record.

The Chairman. Without objection, your prepared statement will
appear in the record.

[Prepared statement of Senator Inouye appears in appendix.]

Senator Inouye. And I will ask just one question.

Mr. Secretary, as you know, the recommendations of the Task
Force represent thousands of hours of work by your staff plus tribal
leaders. I am told that there are 44 recommendations. Of that
number, I have also been advised that your Department agrees
with 40 of them.

First, I would like to know the four that you disagree with. Sec-
ond, is the Department prepared to implement these recommenda-
tions by legislation? If so, when will we see the bill?

Mr. Babbitt, Senator Inouye, I can't give you off the top of my
head a numerical rundown. I do think your question illustrates the
obvious, that is, we support the vast majority of the recommenda-

I believe that legislation is appropriate and I would be prepared

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on IndiReforming and downsizing the Bureau of Indian Affairs : hearing before the Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, March 8, 1995, Washington, DC → online text (page 1 of 38)