Indian Country opposition gains momentum
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Indian Country continues to voice its opposition to a proposed reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as more tribes vow to fight Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's controversial plan.

Over the weekend, the Council of Large Land-Based Tribes drafted a resolution against the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management, citing their consolidated trust holdings. Representing tribes like the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe with the largest reservation in the country, the council's members own more than 60 percent of the entire tribal land base and would be significantly affected by the overhaul.

Large tribes have long complained about being disaffected by Interior policy, saying they are not consulted on decisions which impact them the most. To address these and other issues, about a dozen tribes formed the council earlier this year.

The council's resolution is another obstacle to Norton's plan. National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Sue Masten, who is also chairwoman of the Yurok Tribe of California, criticized the plan as lacking tribal input almost as soon as it was announced.

Also acting quickly were the 16 tribes of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, which also represents large tribes. They passed a resolution to denounce the new bureaucracy.

Hoping to capitalize on the momentum, Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota, said he will introduce a similar resolution at NCAI's annual convention this week. In addition to belonging to NCAI, his tribe is a member of the large and Plains tribal councils.

"The moccasin telegraph is pretty strong," said Hall. "Everybody can be united pretty quick."

During a public radio appearance last week, Norton vaguely alluded to organizations who have responded positively to her scheme.

"As we've talked with people within BIA, within the Congressional committees that deal with Indian affairs within some of the leadership within the organizations -- people who have thought about these organizational issues are responding very favorably," she claimed.

Pressed on the issue, Interior officials said they would find out to whom Norton was referring, and whether she meant tribal organizations.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton faces big week on trust (11/26)
Norton's BIA overhaul blasted (11/26)
Norton sends letters to tribes (11/26)
Interior changes mind on consultation (11/26)
Editorial: Give Norton plan a chance (11/26)
Norton's attorney decries unfairness (11/26)
Norton's choice raises questions (11/26)

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

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