Second consultation on BITAM this week
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The Department of Interior will hold its second consultation meeting with tribes this week to discuss creating a new agency to 54 million acres of tribal land and $3.1 billion in trust assets.

The session will be held at the Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis Airport at the Mall. The hotel is located at 7901 24th Ave. South in Bloomington, Minnesota, home to the Mall of America.

Set to attend are Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb and Ross Swimmer, head of the Office of Trust Transition. Not expected is Secretary Gale Norton.

All three Bush officials faced serious criticism at the first consultation session over the proposal to create the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management (BITAM). The session was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last week and was attended by tribal leaders from throughout Indian Country.

The showing is expected this week, said Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians. He was happy by last week's turnout but said more is needed for this session.

There were 80 tribes [in Albuquerque]," said Hall. "Clearly that's not enough [but] it was a good representation."

The exact time of the meeting has not been announced by the department. Last week's session began at 9 a.m. and lasted all day.

Tentative dates and locations of additional meetings are as follows, according to the Federal Register:
  • Oklahoma City, Okla., January 3, 2002
  • Rapid City, South Dakota, January 10, 2002
  • Palm Springs, Calif., January 17, 2002
  • Anchorage, Alaska, January 23, 2002
  • Washington, D.C., February 1, 2002
The Interior has said in a press release that the California meeting will take place in San Diego, not Palm Springs. However, the department has not sent the change to the Federal Register.

The Interior has also said written comments are being accepted until February 15, 2002. Again, the department did not officially make not of this change in the Register.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Judge rebuffs Norton challenge (12/17)

Relevant Links:
Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis Airport at the Mall -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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