BIA reorganization a focus of NCAI convention
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With two members of the Bush administration scheduled to appear before tribal leaders at the annual convention of the National Congress of American Indians, a proposed reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be a heavily debated topic.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb, who stands to lose a large amount of his power, duties and employee base, will address tribal leaders on Tuesday, November 27. He will speak from 11 a.m. to 12 noon.

Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, a pro-energy appointee who says he is in charge of trust reform, will participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday, November 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Keith Harper, the Native American Rights Fund's lead attorney on the Individual Indian Money (IIM) lawsuit, is set to participate.

Court monitor Joseph Kieffer III, who has issued four reports highly critical of trust reform, has also been invited but may not appear. He told Indianz.Com last week he declined to participate in similar discussion with tribal leaders because he may be under consideration as the receiver for the IIM trust.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota, said he plans to use the convention to express his opposition to the reorganization. He said would call on McCaleb and Griles to ditch their proposal and start the process from scratch.

"Let's sit down together and develop a consultation policy," said Hall, who is running for NCAI president. "This needs consultation from the beginning to the end."

"Let's not have a non-Indian consulting company determine it," he added, referring to a firm Secretary Gale Norton paid nearly $3 million to recommend a "single, accountable trust reform executive sponsor" that has become an Assistant Secretary for Indian Trust Assets Management.

Hall also said he would introduce a resolution calling on all of NCAI's membership to oppose the overhaul. NCAI is the largest tribal organization, representing more than 200 tribes.

NCAI's convention starts November 25 and runs until November 30, the day of a federal court hearing on the IIM trust. The convention is being held in Spokane, Washington.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Indian Country slams 'sham' consultation (11/21)

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians -
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation -
Native American Rights Fund -
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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