Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Law | Trust

BIA took large administrative fee for Quapaw land consolidation

In 2003, Congress earmarked $1 million to help the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma consolidate its land base, which sits on the largest Superfund site in the U.S.

Consolidation has helped facilitate cleanup at Tar Creek, reduce fractionation and promote economic development, Chairman John Berrey said at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing yesterday. But the tribe only benefited from about half of the earmark because the Bureau of Indian Affairs took a huge administrative fee.

According to a letter that Berrey supplied to the committee, the BIA only spent $482,292 of the earmark to acquire land for the tribe. The remaining, $538,874 was used by the Miami agency in Oklahoma.

With $1.9 billion in land consolidation funds being provided by the Cobell Indian trust fund lawsuit, Berrey said the administrative costs are a major concern. The settlement allows the BIA to take 15 percent -- or about $285 million -- for its own use.

"Our hope is that you might create some sort of tool or some process that keeps the bureau from using that money for administrative costs that aren't necessary for land consolidation," Berrey testified.

The BIA did not provide testimony at the hearing.

Committee Notice:
OVERSIGHT HEARING on "The American Indian Probate Reform Act: Empowering Indian Land Owners" (August 4, 2011)

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