Column: BIA the black hole of information requests
""If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise, what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

That gibberish from the title character in "Alice's Adventure in Wonderland" might just as well have come from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which appears to be ducking down its rabbit hole into the world of the indecipherable and the unaccountable.

For many journalists and political activists, the BIA over the years has been considered a black hole where requests for clear information go to die. It didn't matter a whole lot around here, given the absence of Indian tribes and reservations. But interest in the BIA skyrocketed after the Cowlitz Indians gained tribal status in 2002 in the wake of the tribe's David Barnett buying 152 acres at the La Center Interstate 5 junction.

Now, the BIA and its parent, the Department of Interior, will decide if Barnett & Friends will gain federal trust status for the land, a move that would clear the way for construction of one of the largest casino complexes in the state.

The inevitable anti-casino groups sprang up, including Citizens Against Reservation Shopping (CARS), of which Columbian Publisher Scott Campbell is a member. But their requests for information often disappeared down the hole. "

Get the Story:
Gregg Herrington: Why won't the BIA call back? (The Columbian 1/12)