Big tribal showing expected at Norton meeting
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With only one formal meeting scheduled so far on her controversial proposal to strip the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its core responsibilities, tribal leaders from all parts of the nation are planning to attend Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's first consultation session in New Mexico next month.

The December 13 meeting, to be held in Albuquerque, is expected to draw representatives from the state's Pueblos, two Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation. The All Indian Pueblo Council, representing 19 Pueblos, is hosting the all-day event.

But tribal leaders from the Plains and the Pacific Northwest intend to make a showing. During this week's National Congress of American Indians in Spokane, Washington, the more than 200 member tribes rallied one another to attend the meeting, as well as every other session that Norton says she will schedule.

"We can't afford to have a pocketful of tribal leaders showing up," said Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairman Tex Hall, who is running for president of NCAI. "We need to have large numbers showing up in Albuquerque. We're going to get on every phone line and we're going to make sure of it."

Beyond the meeting, which may be shifted slightly due to a contempt trial starting next Monday, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles told tribal leaders the administration has identified six more sites. According to a Federal Register notice he signed, they include Portland, Ore.; Rapid City, S.D.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Washington, D.C.

There are 12 regions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The administration has not indicated if it will hold meetings in all areas, although tribal leaders have raised the suggestion several times.

Griles also said the Interior is open to all solutions tribes might provide to help resolve more than 100 years of mismanagement of tribal and individual Indian assets. Among suggestions being discussed by tribal leaders include elevating the Bureau of Indian Affairs agency to a Secretary level.

Under this proposal, one Assistant Secretary would handle trust, in a manner similar to Norton's Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management. The other would handle services such as education, law enforcement and construction.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton ordered to trial for 'fraud' (11/29)
Tribal leaders reject BIA overhaul (11/29)
Indian Country deserves answers (11/29)
Norton to attend consultation session (11/29)

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

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