BIA collecting Indian preference data
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The Bureau of Indian Affairs is making an "emergency" collection of information regarding the policy of Indian preference.

According to a Federal Register notice published last week, the BIA's Office of Tribal Services is seeking comment on a form used to identify employees eligible for Indian preference. Qualified employees of American Indian or Alaska Native descent are entitled to hiring and promotion priorities under the policy.

Indian preference dates back to the 1800s and is the subject of various laws, including the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The BIA and the Indian Health Service allow preference, a policy upheld by the Supreme Court.

With the proposed reorganization of the BIA, Indian preference has been a top concern of employees. Almost 90 percent of BIA workers throughout the nation are of Native descent, according to department statistics.

A new Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management might not have the policy, they fear. A large but unspecified number of employees carry out trust duties, according to officials.

Tribal leaders are also worried about the policy. Some are insisting legislation be passed to ensure the agency is covered and doesn't revert back to days when decisions affecting tribal and individual Indian trust assets were mostly made by non-Indians.

Comments are being accepted until January 22, 2002.

Get the Notice:
Text | PDF

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

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