Gover: Tribal leaders 'asleep at switch'
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Tribal leaders cannot claim Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's proposal to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs comes as a complete surprise, former Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover said last week.

"It has been predictable for some years that tribal interests have been at stake," said Gover in an interview. "But the tribes have been asleep at the switch"

Gover, who stepped down from his post earlier this year, was one of the named defendants when the Individual Indian Money (IIM) lawsuit went to trial in the summer of 1999. Ever since then, he said he has been warning Indian Country about possible changes that might come about as a result.

"Now the consequences have finally come forward," he said of last week's proposal. "The tribes can complain if they'd like, but the reality is they should have seen this coming."

Not surprisingly, Gover's remarks have bristled some tribal leaders, who scoffed at the suggestion that they haven't been paying attention. "If anybody was asleep at the wheel, it was Kevin Gover," said Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe of Washington.

If Gover had done his job to fix the trust as he promised, Allen said, Indian Country would not have to deal with Norton's plan. "For him to put the burden and point the finger at tribes -- its so disingenuous," he added, saying he is tempted to label Gover a "lousy" assistant secretary.

Gover was held in contempt in February 1999 for not abiding by a court order to produce documents for the IIM lawsuit.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Few answers on BIA overhaul (11/19)
Norton challenges trust fund receiver (11/19)
BIA reorganization focus of radio show (11/19)
Norton defends quarterly reports (11/19)

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

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