Letter: Rahall calls for hearings
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The following is the text of a letter Rep. Nick Rahall (W-Va.) sent to the chairman of the House Resources Committee on Friday, November 16, 2001.

Honorable James Hansen
Chairman, Committee on Resources
U.S. House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing to request that the House Committee on Resources conduct a comprehensive oversight hearing as soon as possible on the proposed establishment of a new agency within the Department of the Interior on Indian trust matters.

In response to activities occurring in the ongoing Cobell v. Norton trust funds litigation, the Department has proposed the creation of a new agency to deal solely with the management of Indian trust assets. Despite the decades long involvement in reforming the Indian trust fund management problems, to my knowledge, this Committee has yet to be officially notified or consulted with on this drastic change. It is my further understanding that the affected Indian tribes and Indian account holders have also been kept in the dark about the formation of this new agency.

News of this proposal has leaked out only within the last 24 hours, yet there are already conflicting comments coming out of the Department which released a memo from Secretary Norton to the Special Trustee for American Indians recognizing the importance of receiving input from Native Americans and Congress prior to implementation. At the same time Department staff have said that a funding reprogramming request has already been sent to OMB for approval and they expect to set up the new agency in the next few weeks.

As you are well aware, Congress has appropriated tens of millions of dollars over the last several years to address the Indian trust fund management problems with little result. While there may be merit to this latest proposal, we simply don't know any details. A hearing is an appropriate forum to get the answers to numerous questions which exist among Members and throughout Indian Country.

With warm regards, I am


Ranking Democratic Member


Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton stripping BIA of trust duties (11/16)
Tribal leaders in uproar over proposal (11/16)
Top Democrat calls for hearings (11/16)
Bush officials to speak at NCAI (11/16)
Norton files contempt defense (11/16)
Q&A on BIA Reorganization (11/16)

Relevant Links:
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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