Interior extends tribal comment period
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The Department of Interior has extended the comment period regarding a proposed reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, after tribal leaders raised doubts about an aggressive yet largely undefined schedule.

According to a document signed by Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, written comments "must be accepted" by February 15, 2002. Previously, he had cut off responses by January 15.

Griles is also changing the location of the first consultation meeting. The session will still take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but will now be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on 330 Tijeras Street NW.

Originally, the meeting was going to be held at the All Indian Pueblo Council, which represents the state's 19 Pueblos. Pueblo officials raised concerns they wouldn't have enough room to hold all the expected participants so the Interior moved the meeting.

Griles is announcing a second meeting as well in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on December 20. It will be held at the Doubletree Hotel on 7901 24th Avenue South.

Tentative dates and locations of additional meetings are as follows:
  • 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
Official notice of the new Minneapolis meeting and the Albuquerque change will be made public in tomorrow's Federal Register.

Although Griles has extended the written comment period, the document he signed does not give a reason. The document does not specifically make note of an extension; it only states the new cut off date.

During an appearance on Native America Calling yesterday, Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb said the department was trying to "remedy" its lack of prior consultation with tribes about the overhaul. The new sessions are meant to get more input for Indian Country, he said.

The meetings, he said, will serve as an "open discussion of: Do we need to change? [and] What's the best format for change in terms of the handling of the trust account?"

Today on Indianz.Com:
McCaleb doubts tribal opposition (12/4)
Trust fund report still can't be found (12/4)
Tribal leaders worried about consultation (12/4)
Judge holding secret hearings (12/4)
GOP push may be tied to Indian preference (12/4)
Indian leader happy for contempt trial (12/4)

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

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