|Bureau of Indian Affairs makes FY 2002
budget request public
$ 37,709,638 budgeted for Midwest tribes
by Clara NiiSka
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is requesting $2,284,606,000 from the U.S. Congress for fiscal year 2002. As the BIA explains in its 2002 “Greenbook,” the two and a quarter billion dollars budgeted for FY 2002 is a three percent increase from last year’s budget request, and $65.9 million more than was allocated to the BIA by Congress for FY 2001.
The amounts requested by the BIA for Midwest “Self-Governance Tribes” for FY 2002 are detailed in the table published on pages 6 and 8 of this issue, and according to BIA budget figures, total $16,550,188. The BIA’s self-governance tribes under the supervision of its Midwest Regional Office include six Minnesota reservations: Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Bois Forte, Grand Portage, Red Lake, and Fond du Lac. Tribal councils on these reservations administer federally-funded programs under contracts made by the BIA, mostly under the authority of Public Law 93-638 (25 U.S.C. § 450, et seq.) As the Bureau explains in its narrative introduction to the FY 2002 budget request, “the Bureau is charged with the primary responsibility for administrating Federal programs for the Federally recognized tribes.” The BIA’s tribal program structure and priorities remain controlled by the BIA under “self-governance contracts.” Some of the programs listed in the budgets for self-governance tribes are very clearly identified as B.I.A. agency programs, rather than “tribal government” programs, for example the “tribal courts” at Mille Lacs, Bois Forte, and Red Lake.
The BIA’s Tribal Priority Allocations generally involve programs more clearly under the direct administration of the BIA. The TPAs for the Midwest region are detailed in the chart on page 8 of this issue, and total $21,959,450. Tribal priority allocations requested for Minnesota include funding for: the Red Lake Agency, the Minnesota Agency, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth, Lower Sioux, Prairie Island, Shakopee, and Upper Sioux.
Other BIA expenditures pertaining to Minnesota reservations include programs and financing pursuant to the White Earth Reservation Land Settlement Act (WELSA), for FY 2002 estimated at two million dollars.
Press/ON published excerpts from the BIA’s 2001 Office of Self Governance budget on April 20, 2001, and detailed government funding to Minnesota tribes as reported in the most recent single audit reports available on April 27. The BIA requested more than $19 million for Minnesota tribes and regional office administrative costs for FY 2001, and the single audits revealed that more than $113 million in federal money is being spent on Minnesota Indian tribes.
The BIA originated in 1834 as a part of the U.S. War Department. It was transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849, and it has retained administrative control over Indian affairs ever since.
The BIA struggles to address the ramifications of its “unique relationship” to Indians in the “Mission and Objectives” statement in the “Overview” of its FY 2002 budget request. As the Bureau explains, its “mission is to fulfill its trust responsibilities and promote self-determination on behalf of Tribal Governments, American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
The dilemma of promoting “self-determination” in the context of “guardian-ward” government trusteeship is perhaps at the crux of the BIA’s “uniqueness.” After more than a century and a half of the BIA’s peaceful guardianship, the Bureau writes in its FY 2002 budget justifications that: “In summary, American Indians … have higher levels of poverty, unemployment, single parent families, fertility and mortality than the U.S. population at large. On the Indian reservations, poverty is still commonplace, unemployment and violence are double the national average, and infant mortality, alcoholism, and substance abuse are far in excess of the rest of America.”
The BIA’s FY 2002 “Greenbook” is posted online, with the index and hot links to the entire budget request at http://www.doi.gov/bia/isseve.htm.