New NCAI president vows BIA fight
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The new president of the nation's largest tribal organization on Thursday vowed to fight Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's controversial proposal to strip the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its core responsibilities.

A chief opponent of the plan, Tex Hall said his top priority as head of the National Congress of American Indians would be making sure the Bush administration doesn't carry through with it. "There is no support in Indian Country for this proposed reorganization," he said.

"It's just another knee jerk quick fix," Hall said. "It took 150 years to mismanage our trust assets and in 30 days they want to shove it down our throat. It's not going to happen."

Having shored up opposition among Plains and large land-base tribes, Hall led the push to have the organization denounce the plan. A resolution he introduced was approved unanimously at NCAI's annual convention in Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday.

The document calls on the Interior to engage in "meaningful" consultation with tribes on a solution to the long-running problem. Norton and her top leadership must work with tribes "from the beginning to the end" on the issue, Hall added.

Hall also said said he would create a national tribal task force to focus on legislative and legal avenues to ensure Indian Country's needs are addressed. "We have to look to our friends in Congress," he said.

Hall has served as chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota since 1988. "This is the first time in history that an individual from my tribe or from the state of North Dakota as a whole has been elected president," he said.

Elected first vice-president was Joe Garcia of San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. A council member, he has helped gain national awareness of his tribe's fight to maintain its own labor laws, a battle which could end up being resolved by the Supreme Court.

Colleen F. Cawston, chairwoman of the Confederated Colville Tribes of Washington was elected secretary. Alma Ransom, Chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York and a regional vice-president, was elected treasurer.

All terms run for two years.

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians -
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation -

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