Plot Thickens In Missing Tribal Contributions!
As of today, March 3rd, the Arizona Republic reports Interior Department officials are investigating whether the outgrowth of a Republican environmental group founded by Norton has been using its influence to help Abramoff sway the agency’s decisions on environmental issues.
In 1997 Norton, then Colorado’s attorney general, created CREA – Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy – which describes itself as a group committed to preserving the environment in the conservative Republican tradition of Teddy Roosevelt.
Through Abramoff/Scanlon the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is said to have issued checks to CREA for $50,000 in 2001 and $100,000 in 2002 and the Tigua Indians whose Ysleta del Sur Pueblo adjoins El Paso stated they issued a $25,000 check to CREA in 2002.
A tribal spokesman for the Coushattas noted a change in tribal leadership made it unclear as to why an earlier administration had agreed to contribute to CREA in the first place.
The Tigua contributions were aimed at support for legislation that would allow the tribe to reopen its casino which was closed in 2002. while unbeknownst to them, Abramoff was initially instrumental in getting their casino closed.
The money, which the tribes say they contributed to CREA is now under federal investigation, as unaccounted for in public records where federal regulators say it should be listed.
Other tribes involved in payments to Abramoff and Scanlon include the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs; Pueblo Sandia Tribe of New Mexico; Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
A grand jury is reportedly looking into Abramoff/Scanlon dealings with the six tribes that paid them some $82 million over a several year period.
A CREA critic, also a GOP partisan, maintains “CREA is a front group for the chemical, petroleum development, mining and all other extractive industries that want to use our public lands for their own profit.”
Thank you Martha Marks, president of the Republicans for Environmental Protection for the above statement. Since the re-election of President Bush, I maintain the only people who can rein in and tackle Bush Administration policies, now, are the people who supported and voted for him in the last election. I didn’t!
Norton, a strong Bush supporter, joined his Cabinet in 2001.
An added note of interest – The head of the BIA – Bureau of Indian Affairs, aka in some circles as “The Big tit to the Indian world”, left his office on February 12, after one year of service as the Assistant Secretary.
David Anderson, an enrolled member of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians with a family history with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was the founder of the casino management company for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in central Minnesota. In my opinion, a distinct conflict of interest with his position as head of the BIA.
In a letter to his boss Gale Norton, Anderson wrote, “I have concluded that I can have the greatest impact to improve the future of Indian country not by managing the day-to-day operations of BIA programs but by focusing my time on developing private sector for economic opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs.”
So far, I have not read or heard of a replacement for his position.
In the early years of our nation, Indian affairs were governed by the Continental Congress, which in 1775 created a Committee on Indian Affairs headed By Benjamin Franklin. Fifty years later the BIA was established under the War Department and eventually was moved to the Interior Department in 1949.
Since its inception March 11th 1824, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been a witness to and principle player in the history of federal-tribal relations. Once an instrument of
federal policies to subjugate and assimilate American Indian tribes and their peoples, the BIA has changed dramatically as have those policies over the past 181 years.
The passage of landmark legislation such as the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and The tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994 has fundamentally changed how the BIA and its constituency do business with the tribes, now.
Is it time to cut ties with the 562 tribal nations and Alaska villages? Is the BIA headed for retirement from the federal system?
This story has been edited for content and length from an February 27th article in The Arizona Republic, bylined Jon Kamman and Billy House; February 1st AP story bylined Frederic J. Frommer and an Internet article, “Bureau of Indian Affairs”.
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