BITAM consultation in South Dakota this week
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The Department of Interior is hosting its fourth consultation over the proposed Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management (BITAM) in Rapid City, South Dakota, on January 10.

The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza on 505 N. 5th Street. It will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to last all day.

The Plains region is home to a large number of individual Indians whose assets will be affected by the creation of BITAM. Tribes with large land holdings are also located in the region, with some, like the Oglala Lakota Tribe of South Dakota, opposing the new agency.

Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb, his deputy Wayne Smith, his legal counsel Aurene Martin and Ross Swimmer, who is supposed to be heading the transition to the new agency, are scheduled to attend. Secretary Gale Norton is not expected.

Beyond Rapid City, additional meetings will be held in San Diego, California, on January 17; Anchorage, Alaska, on January 23; Washington, D.C., February 1; and Portland, Oregon, on February 14. On a radio appearance on Native America Calling, Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesperson Nedra Darling said dates for consultation sessions in Billings, Montana, and Window Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation are still being worked out.

As part of the process, McCaleb has agreed to the creation of a task force consisting of two tribal leaders plus one alternate from each of the BIA's 12 regions. The National Congress of American Indians is coordinating the task force, which McCaleb has funded with $500,000.

Tribal leaders last week in Oklahoma said the amount was not enough to ensure the task force does a good job of coming up with an alternative to BITAM. Money will be needed to hire trust experts, they said.

McCaleb didn't immediately say he would find additional funds.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Order on trust fund payments sought (1/8)

More on Task Force:
NCAI: Nominations Needed (1/4)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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