Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McSwain Confirmed as Director of IHS

This week, Mike Leavitt, Secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services, made the following statement on the confirmation of Robert G. McSwain as director of the Indian Health Service:

“I applaud the Senate’s confirmation of Bob McSwain as Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). Bob brings to this role strong leadership skills and more than 30 years of federal service. Throughout his tenure, he has shown a strong dedication and commitment to the health and well-being of the 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives served by this Department. I know Bob will continue to be a tremendous asset to HHS and I appreciate his contribution to the leadership team.”

McSwain, a member of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, served as IHS deputy director from February 2005 until he was appointed acting director in September 2007.

McSwain has been honored with many awards, including the President’s Rank Award for Meritorious Service in 2002 and the President’s Rank Award for Distinguished Service in 2006.

AI/AN Population up 1%

Here’s news from the U.S. Census Bureau. The American Indian and Alaska Native population rose by 1 percent or 45,000, from 2006 to 2007.

California, with 689,000, had the largest population of American Indians and Alaska Natives; next was Oklahoma with 394,000 and Arizona (335,000).

Texas had the largest numerical increase (8,300) since July 1, 2006, followed by Arizona (4,900) and Florida (2,800).

In Alaska, American Indians and Alaska Natives made up the highest proportion of the total population (18 percent), with Oklahoma (11 percent)and New Mexico (10 percent) next.

The single-race American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2007 had a median age of 30.3, compared with the population as a whole at 36.6. About 27 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population was younger than 18, compared with 25 percent of the total population.

American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest minority group in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kempthorne Praises Artman's Leadership at BIA

Yesterday, Indian Country was abuzz with the rumor that Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Carl Artman had resigned. By the end of the day, the rumor proved to be fact, confirmed by an announcement from Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

In his letter of resignation, Artman gave no reason for his resignation, which comes just nine months before the end of the Bush Administration. At the regional directors meeting in Albuquerque last week, Artman said he was resigning for many reasons, one of them being a desire to relocate and settle his children in a new area before the start of the school year.

Artman, a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, was confirmed to the post on March 5, 2007. Before that, he served as the Interior’s Associate Solicitor for Indian Affairs. He also served as director of the Federal Affairs and Chief Legal Counsel and as chief operating officer of Airadigm, a tribally owned telecommunications company in Wisconsin.

Just last week, Artman and South Dakota Sen. John Thune unveiled their joint proposal for a South Dakota Indian and Tribal Business Incubator Project to help accelerate economic development throughout the state’s nine reservations, which the tribes are praising.

In a letter to Artman, Kempthorne praised him for "The Indian Modernization Initiative." The initiative, "developed and launched under Carl’s leadership, has upgraded communications between tribal leaders and the Department on a number of priority issues,” Kempthorne said.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Artman Resigns

Carl J. Artman has reportedly resigned his position as assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, effective May 23. A spokesperson for the BIA, Nedra Darling, could not confirm Artman's resignation, saying he was in flight and unavailable. But according to sources, Artman announced his resignation last week at a BIA regional directors' meeting in Albuquerque.

Lumbee Recognition Act Goes to Full Senate for Vote

A bill that would give the Lumbees Tribe of North Carolina federal recognition has been voted out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and now goes to the full Senate for consideration. If the bill passes the Senate, the tribe would be eligible for millions of dollars in federal aid for education, health, economic development and housing. Federal officials estimate the tribe could receive $400 million over five years. It is uncertain when the bill will be brought before the Senate for a vote. Read the whole story in the Fayetteville Observer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ethics: Gifts from Contractors or Vendors

Q. Should tribal governments ban the acceptance of gifts from contractors or vendors?

A. Historically, Native Americans and tribal governments have been very generous in sharing their limited resources with others. Bestowing tokens of appreciation to those in social and commercial relationships has become an accepted part of the culture and tradition of most tribes. Also, many tribal leaders feel that it is important to protect this gesture of gratitude.

However, the receipt of gifts by tribal governments from contractors and vendors has become increasingly common, especially among gaming tribes. Unfortunately, gift giving to targeted tribal and / or casino decision-makers is often a simple but effective method for vendors to “influence” the flow of business. The danger from the tribe’s perspective is that there is often no bright line distinguishing a “gift” from a “bribe”. In other words, the “gift” may create a conflict of interest for the employee. If a tribal / casino decision-maker awards a contract to a vendor based upon something other than the value of the service or material provided, the tribe and its members are victimized. Tribal / casino employees have an ethical obligation to act in the best interest of their employer.

To prevent even the appearance of impropriety, many tribes have adopted a code of ethics that restricts gift giving by contractors and vendors. Typically, employees are required to report receipt of any gift exceeding a nominal value (e.g. $50 or $100) and are prohibited from retaining such items. Such a restriction prevents employees who are in a position to award lucrative contracts from being influenced by the receipt of “gifts” from applicant vendors. Often, such ethical prohibitions on gift giving must be provided to contractors and vendors so that they will not attempt to distribute unauthorized gifts. If gifts are still received by the tribe / casino, codes of ethics often require that the gift be given randomly as a prize to a tribal member or to charity. Gift giving poses a serious conflict of interest and should be controlled by the tribe to prevent abuse.

Joseph M. Paiement is a tribal attorney and an instructor for Falmouth Institute, teaching Ethics, Tribal Constitutions and American Indian Law.

Have an ethics question? Post it in the comments section and we'll address the best questions in future blogs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

U.S. Magistrate Upholds Evidence Submission Despite Lack of Tribal Police Certification

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno has recommended that motions to suppress evidence in an assault case on the Rosebud Reservation be denied, rejecting the defendants’ argument that because the arresting tribal police officers were not certified, the evidence they gathered should be suppressed. The story appeared today in the Rapid City Journal.

According to the article, which quoted Marty Jackley, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, similar arguments to suppress evidence have been made in four other cases in federal court, including two consolidated with this case, one juvenile matter and another case with a separate officer. Similar complaints about the lack of valid tribal police commissions were used by defense attorneys to dismiss about 300 criminal cases in tribal court, according to tribal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier may accept, reject or modify Moreno's findings on the evidence-suppression motion, according to Marty Jackley, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota. The defendant argued that because the arresting officers carried invalid or expired tribal police commission cards, the officers were not commissioned tribal officers and therefore had no authority to arrest, search, detain or seize evidence in the case.

The police commission had expired because according to tribal law, they have to be renewed every two years. The council discovered the situation in January and renewed police officers commissions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Your Tribe Able to Prevent or Catch Credit Card Abuses?

We recently read that the Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Council (RTC) censured one of its representatives for misusing band funds. The council has begun the process to remove the member from office. The irregularities were detected by the Band’s internal review process, and in accordance with the band’s fiscal policies. As Bois Forte Secretary-Treasurer noted, though this was an unfortunate incident, it was good that the tribe had the procedures in place to discover it.

Credit card abuses among government employees and elected officials is very common, in fact the GAO recently issued a report on abuses in the federal government. As tribes become more prosperous, tribal or corporate credit cards for employees and elected officials are becoming more commonplace. But how many tribes have controls in place to control the use of the credit card and to catch abuses?

Here are few basic controls that tribal government should consider if they issue credit cards to employees and elected officials:

  • Demand that receipts be submitted for all expenditures and that the employee who made expenditure provide a written justification for the purchase.
  • Expenditures over a certain amount should require prior approval.
  • There should be policies in place to revoke privileges if abuses occur.
  • Consider restricting credit card use to certain situations, such as hotel expenses during pre-approved travel.
  • Enact a policy that credit cards can never be used for personal expenditures.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Licensing of Tribal Health Care Providers

Proposed amendments to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act would eliminate the requirement that tribal health care professionals be licensed in the state where the tribe is located. The amendment only requires that the professionals be licensed in any one of the 50 states. The language can be found in section 211 of the proposed legislation. This should make it easier for tribal health programs to recruit health care professionals, but it raises a couple of questions:

  1. Does a tribe need to be operating a PL 93-638 contract or compact in order to come under the provisions of the new licensing requirement?

  2. If the professional is not licensed in the state where the tribe is located can he or she treat tribal patients in off-reservation facilities?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Indian School Gets Free Solar System

The Natchez Elementary School on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribes’ reservation in Nevada will be the recipient of new solar energy system that will generate clean, reliable and free electricity from the sun, a press release issued this week announced. The project, being built by Black Rock Solar, with support from MMA Renewable Ventures and Nevada's Sierra Pacific Power Company, will be developed at no cost to the school or tribe. The 60 KW system is expected to generate 108,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, resulting in savings of approximately $360,000 over the next 25 years. The school and the Washoe County School District will share the savings, with half directly supporting the school's budget and the other half sponsoring a special fund to support conservation efforts throughout the district.

College Fund Turns 40

Happy Anniversary to the American Indian College Fund, which turns 40 this spring. To celebrate, the Fund will host a special event on May 1 at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. All proceeds from the event will benefit scholarships for American Indian students. The Fund is the nation's largest provider of private scholarships for American Indian students, providing 5,000 scholarships annually. Can’t attend but want to donate? Contributions can be made online at the Fund’s Web site.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Conflict of Interest for Council Members?

Q. In your opinion, is it unethical or a conflict of interest for Council members to sit as voting members on tribal departments or tribal corporate boards exercising dual voting seats on both Council and other boards?

A. The mere fact that a Council member works in another tribal department or sits on a tribal corporate board does not normally create a conflict of interest or constitute unethical behavior. However, problems arise when the Council member is called upon to participate in decisions that impact his department or board. At this point, most tribal ethics codes require the member to abstain from voting and some go further by preventing him / her from being present with the Council while it debates the issue. Clearly, participation in decisions that directly effect the member’s department or board does create a conflict of interest. If the Council frequently addresses issues pertaining to the department or board, the member’s productivity on the Council will be seriously compromised so long as they continue “to wear two hats”. Resignation from one of the two positions may then be the only remedy.

Joseph M. Paiement is a tribal attorney and an instructor for Falmouth Institute, teaching Ethics, Tribal Constitutions and American Indian Law.

Have an ethics question? Post it in the comments section and we'll address the best questions in future blogs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oral Arguments in Plains Commerce Bank

For impressions of the oral arguments on Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle visit Turtle Talk. The issue in Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle was whether tribal courts have jurisdiction over a dispute between a nontribal bank and a company that is majority Indian-owned.

Houma Nation of Louisiana still struggles to rebuild

Reznet reports on the plight of the United Houma Nation of Louisiana. Long after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Houma still struggle to repair their shattered lives and livelihoods. The special report, “Katrina, Rita and the Houma", is the product of a year-long reznet project, in which journalism students Mary Hudetz, a Crow reporter from the University of Montana, and Martina Rose Lee, a Navajo photojournalist from Arizona State University, teamed with veteran professional journalists Victor Merina, a former Los Angeles Times investigative reporter, and multimedia journalist Steven A. Chin to produce an in-depth multimedia report on a complex issue of importance in Indian Country.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tribes Eligible for Environmental Justice Grant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice announced the availability of $800,000 in funding for the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program for projects to assist low-income and minority communities to develop locally-based solutions to their sometimes disproportionate share of environmental and public health issues. EPA anticipates awarding one to four grants of up to $20,000 in each region under this funding opportunity (EPA-OECA-OEJ-08-01). Native American tribal governments, non-profits, cities, townships, and county governments are eligible applicants. Applications are due June 30.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Students and staff endangered in structurally deficient BIA schools

Severe health and safety deficiencies at the Chinle Boarding School in Many Farms, Ariz., endanger the lives of close to 500 students and staff members, according to a report released by the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General.

Severe structural cracks and unstable foundations exerted pressure on natural gas lines, electrical wires and boiler room components. Escaping natural gas or electrical discharges from damaged pipelines or wiring could result in explosions and loss of life, the report said.

The report details the health and safety issues endangering DOI staff at a number of Department of Interior facilities around the country, including 13 elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Bureau of Indian Education. Deterioration at the schools inspected by the OIG ranged from minor deficiencies like leaking roofs to major deficiencies like structural weaknesses, outdated electrical systems and inadequate fire detection and suppression systems. In fact, the BIE told the OIG that 69 of its 184 elementary and secondary schools and dormitories are in poor condition.

At the Shonto Preparatory School in Shonto, Ariz., inspectors found significant electrical deficiencies that increased the risk of fire and endangered the lives of the 550 students who attend classes there. Inspectors found duct tape placed over a circuit breaker to prevent it from tripping, electrical extension cords routed through brick walls and dangling from ceilings and fire alarm system that didn’t work. The school’s ongoing rodent problem poses a risk for hantavirus.

This latest report restates many of the same structural deficiencies cited last May when the OIG issued a Flash Report, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education: Schools in Need of Immediate Action.

Despite the dire predictions in that report and recommendations for immediate step to mitigate the issues, the BIE FY 2009 school construction budget was cut by about $30.5 million from 2008. Included within this request amount is $115.4 million for Education Construction, a reduction of $27.6 million from the 2008 enacted level. The FY 2009 request fully funds the replacement of the Dennehotso Boarding School, a K-8 on-reservation boarding school in Arizona, and replaces buildings at the Chinle Boarding School. The Education Construction request also includes funding for facilities improvement and repair projects including $50.7 million for annual maintenance. In addition, employee housing is funded at $1.6 million.

Freedmen Issue Dogs Cherokee Nation

According to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus have told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that they will block reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act until the citizenship status of the Freedmen is addressed. An amendment to the legislation prohibits giving federal funds to the Cherokee Nation unless it restores the Freedmen to citizenship. In addition, last week at the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference, Allison Binney, the staff director for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee said the House is considering adding a similar provision to its version of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Monday, April 14, 2008

GAO finds fault with the implementation of Yellowstone Bison Management Plan

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report made public last week confirms that the federal and state agencies are severely limited in their ability to effectively manage the Yellowstone National Park bison population. In October 2006, House Natural Resource Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall and Rep. Maurice Hinchey asked the GAO to update and expand the 2000 Interagency Bison Management Plan. More than 3,000 bison have been slaughtered since the adoption of the IBMP in 2000; 1,160 bison have been slaughtered in 2008 alone. The GAO report “makes it clear that all federal and state agencies involved in managing Yellowstone’s bison need to work more cooperatively and in a more transparent fashion,” Hinchey said.

Datebook -- This Week

Around Indian Country

April 15-16, The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Great Plains Regional office hosts the 10th Annual Great Plains Tribal Economic Development Summit in Sioux Falls, S.D. The theme for this year’s summit, “Contemporary Economic Resources for Great Plains Tribes,” reflects a renewed commitment to the Bureau’s overall emphasis on modernization.

April 18, the Sixth Annual American Indian Health Research Conference begins at the University of North Dakota Memorial Union. Organized by the Center for Rural Health at UND, this free event will feature nationally known speakers in the area of American Indian health research.

April 20-23, The National Indian Gaming Association convenes its Annual Trade Show and Convention in San Diego.

In Congress

April 14, 12 Noon, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Indian Child Welfare Association hold briefing on "Native American Child Welfare" in HC-6, U.S. Capitol.

April 16, 2 p.m., The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power, led by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), will hold an oversight hearing on "Indian Water Rights Settlements."

April 17, 10:30 a.m. EST, The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs holds oversight hearings on the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ethics: Double Standard?

Q. A tribal council member who was convicted of driving while intoxicated was forced to resign his position on the council. Just a few months earlier, a tribal secretary, who was convicted of the same crime, was placed on three-months probation but allowed to keep her job. Is it proper for tribal governments to employ two standards of conduct – one for elected officials and one for employees?

A. Depending upon the tribe’s constitution and laws, it may be both legal and proper for a tribal government to apply distinct standards of conduct that result in elected employees being treated differently. For example, many tribal constitutions prohibit elected officials, including tribal council members, from holding office after they have been convicted of a serious criminal offense. In some jurisdictions, depending upon the defendant’s criminal history and offense conduct, driving while intoxicated is a gross misdemeanor or felony-level offense.

Accordingly, it is conceivable that a tribal official could be constitutionally prohibited from retaining his/her position following such a conviction while an employee, not covered under the constitution, may be permitted by tribal employment policy to keep his/her job after a probationary period. Also, many tribes have adopted a code of ethics that prohibits tribal officials and/or employees from engaging in certain types of conduct, including criminal behavior.

Such ethics laws may subject tribal officials and employees to different penalties for violating the same restriction. It is important for misconduct to be clearly defined by the tribe so that everyone is on notice as to the consequences of their behavior.

Joseph M. Paiement is a tribal attorney and an instructor for Falmouth Institute, teaching Ethics, Tribal Constitutions and American Indian Law.

Have an ethics question? Post it in the comments section and we'll address the best questions in future blogs.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Revenue Declines at Atlantic City Casinos

Last year, for the first time ever, revenue declined at Atlantic City casinos -- down from more than $5 billion the year before, to just below $5 billion, reports National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. The problem is competition, including the Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun. But other sources of competition for Atlantic City may one day prove problematic for tribes – non-Indian gambling operations such as casinos at racetracks and slots only parlors. As cash-strapped states become more desperate to raise revenue, tribally owned casinos will likely see more and more competition from these smaller gaming operations.

SAIC Awarded $16 million IHS Contract

Science Applications International Corporation recently announced it has been awarded the Indian Health Service (IHS) Electronic Dental Record Implementation Support contract from the General Services Administration (GSA). Under the $16 million contract, SAIC will help improve dental health care for more than 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives by implementing an electronic dental record system that interfaces with other IHS health care systems. SAIC will help ensure operational success by providing program management, quality control, certification and accreditation, and business- process engineering services.

The Economist Takes Note

The Economist this week offers two articles on the state of the economy in Indian Country. Capitalism’s last Frontier is a survey of business opportunities on the Navajo Nation reservation. The magazine quips: “The local joke goes that the tribe’s biggest export is dollars.” Ho Dear is about the troubles facing the celebrated Ho-Chunk Inc., which, the magazine says, is “more popular off the reservation than on it.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nepotism Costs Head Start Grantee over $66,000

The HHS appeals board recently upheld the disallowance of $66,888 in salary paid to the sister of a Head Start center’s CEO. The L.I. Child and Family Center employed the sister of the CEO in violation of the center’s own personnel policy and provisions of the Head Start law and regulations prohibiting any taint of “partisan political bias or personal or family favoritism” in the conduct of Head Start programs. Even though the case did not deal specifically with a tribal program, tribal Head Start programs are subject to the same laws and regulations.

Tribe lacks jurisdiction on highway within reservation boundaries

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the Red Lake Nation court did not have the authority to hear a case involving a car accident on the reservation in which a non-member was involved. In Nord v. Kelly (No. 07-1564) (a copy of the case is available on Turtle Talk), the court affirmed a district court decision that the tribe did not have jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit brought by a tribal member against a non-member, non-Indian, for damages sustained in accident that took place on a state highway within the reservation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dorgan Wants Tribal Input on Contract Health Services

Sen. Byron Dorgan, chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, says he will hold hearings on the Contract Health Service program and he wants tribal leaders and others involved in Indian health care to speak up.

In a letter to tribal leaders, Dorgan said the program is “not working well, and many individual Indians are often faced with having to pay enormous bills that are supposed to be covered by the federal government.”

In fact, the CHS program is generally funded at about half the need and tends to run out of money about eight or nine months into the fiscal year. After the money runs out, only emergency and acute urgent care is provided, giving rise to the wry maxim: “Don’t get sick after June.”

Dorgan would like comments from tribal members and tribal leaders on how the current CHS program is working and to be informed of any problems tribal communities are facing regarding health care.

Contracted Doctors not Employees of Indian Health Service

Doctors under contract with the Indian Health Service are not employees of the federal government and therefore the federal government is protected from suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act for any alleged malpractice by the doctor. A patient at the Carl Albert Indian Health Facility in Ada, Oklahoma sued the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act for malpractice due to substandard care received at the facility. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma ruled (Harjo v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- No. 07-CV-184-JHP) that because the doctor was under contract and actually employed by Comp Health Inc., he was not a federal employee and thus the federal government had no liability. In reaching its decision that the doctor was not an employee it used a seven factor test established by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Woodruff v. Covington, 389 F.3d 1117, 1126.

States 2 - Tribes 0, in Recent Court Decisions

Federal courts continue to favor states' rights over those of tribal governments, as illustrated in two separate decisions handed down last week in Federal District Courts. In Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin v. Village of Hobart (Case No. 06-C-1302) Judge William C Griesbach wrote for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin that the village of Hobart could tax and initiate condemnation proceedings against land purchased by the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. The land had been part of the reservation generations ago but was sold. In Keweenaw Bay Indian Community v. Kleine (Case No. 2:05-CV-224), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled that the state could withhold payments due the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community because the tribe had not collected and paid use and sales taxes related to sales within the reservation boundaries.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Indian Preference Expanded

The U.S. Department of Interior must give preference to qualified Indians for all positions within the Department of Interior that relate to the provision of services to American Indians, not just the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Indian Educators Federation v. Kempthorne (Civil No. 04-01215). The Indian Educators Federation argued that Section 12 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 mandates employment preference for American Indians employed in any position in the Department of Interior that directly and primarily relates to the provision of services to American Indians. In ruling for the organization, the court examined the Interior Department’s historical interpretation of Section 12 and the meaning of the term “Indian Office,” as used in the act. Though acknowledging that the term is ambiguous in the Act, the court determined that the ambiguity should be “construed liberally to favor the Indians.”

Datebook -- This Week

Around Indian Country
April 9-11, the Federal Bar Association holds the 33rd Annual Indian Law Conference at the Albuquerque Marriott, Albuquerque, NM.

In Congress
Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee holds an oversight hearing to examine the digital television transition, focusing on consumers, broadcasters, and converter boxes at 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 10 a.m., the House Natural Resources Committee, holds legislative hearings on the following bills: H.R. 5608, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments Act; H.R. 3522, to ratify a conveyance of a portion of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation to Rio Arriba County, State of New Mexico; H.R. 3490, Tuolumne Me-Wuk Land Transfer Act of 2007; S. 2457, a bill to provide for extensions of leases of certain land by Mashantucket Pequot (Western) Tribe and H.R.___ , a bill to amend certain laws relating to Native Americans to make certain adjustments, and for other purposes.

Thursday, 10 a.m., the House Natural Resources Committee holds legislative hearings on H.R. 5541, Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act or FLAME Act and H.R. 5648, Emergency Wildland Fire Response Act of 2008.

In the Federal Register
Beginning this week, Indian tribes may enter into business agreements and leases for energy resource development on tribal land without the approval of the Department of Interior. They may also grant rights-of-way for pipelines or electric transmission or distribution lines on tribal land. Indian tribes entering into such business agreements, leases, and grants of rights-of-way must execute them under an approved tribal energy resource agreement (TERA) between the Secretary and the tribe. The Department of Interior has published final regulations under which a tribe may apply for, and the Secretary may grant, authority for an Indian tribe to review and approve leases and business agreements and grant rights-of-way for specific energy development activities on tribal lands through an approved TERA. The regulations also cover processes for implementation of TERAs, including periodic review and evaluation of a tribe's activities under a TERA, enforcement of TERA provisions, and administrative appeals. The regulations also include a process for a tribe's voluntarily rescinding a TERA.

The Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau) is requesting comments on proposed criteria and guidelines for determining American Indian Areas (AIAs) and Alaska Native Areas (ANAs). These statistical areas will be used to collect, tabulate, and present data from the 2010 Census. Comments are due before June 16 for the ANAs and June 30 for AIAs.