Tribal leaders object to Interior Department reorganization

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Leaders of 13 tribal governments are blasting a Trump Administration Executive Order reorganizing the Department of Interior and the specific agencies charged with fulfilling treaties.   

32 tribal representatives from across the country met at Ft. Hall this week to review the order and its impacts. All of them expressed concerns about the administration's failure to consult the tribes. Among the proposals, an order re-aligning regional boundaries for federal agencies within the department, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.   

"If you can't honor our treaties, then we want our lands back," stated Shaun Chapoose of Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee. Jeremy Patterson, legal counsel for the Ute Indian Tribe said, "{the federal government} must address treaty rights in order for this nation to progress. Until that happens there must be consequences to the federal government for not recognizing our treaties." 

You can view the administration's executive order here.

The Ft. Hall meeting was hosted by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, and the Ute Tribe of Utah on the occasion of the annual Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' annual Indian Festival.  Tribal leaders represented the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Navajo Nation, Ute Tribe, Yankton Sioux, San Juan Southern Paiute, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Shivwits Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe, Shoshone-Paiute, Confederate Tribes of Goshute, Northern Arapahoe Tribe, Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northwestern Band of Shoshone.

The tribes believe the federal government has failed to allocate adequate funding for tribal programs, resulting in a myriad of un-met needs. Tribal leaders demanded the Department of Interior meet with the Tribes directly, then work with them to address base problems. 

While a formal response is being drafted, the representatives urged all tribes to submit individual letters to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calling for better review of proposed policy changes with tribal stakeholders and full review of their actual impacts on the tribes.

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