I'm promoting one of the comments to it's own blog.
The BIA is the most investigated agency in the U.S.
There have literally been hundreds of investigations, and multiple attempts to terminate the agency. The truth is that the federal government has a vested interest in keeping the BIA alive. They deal with Indians who are a black mark on the history of American justice, and the tribal leaders do not protest overmuch. They have grown accustomed to the way business is done at the BIA, and know that a favorable decision on issues of import is only a bribe away.
And what consequences arise from such investigations? Look at the Cobell settlement. Did the BIA terminate anyone? Was their budget slashed? Was there a reorganization? No.
The U.S. Government just coughed up some money and they let the BIA manage the distribution. What a joke. The agency that lost billions of American Indian dollars gets to manage a multi-billion dollar settlement fund. And then they get to play gatekeeper and make sure that no one gets the money unless they prove that they are eligible under imposed requirements.
Did you read Kevin Gover's apology delivered on the 175th anniversary of the BIA?
"On September 8, 2000, speaking on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Assistant Secretary of the Interior Kevin Gover offered a historic apology for the agency's policies and actions throughout its 175-year history—particularly for its devastating impact on American Indian nations, whether federally recognized, unrecognized, or extinct. Over much of its history, the BIA wreaked havoc in Indian Country through policies that, in their most extreme forms, ranged from extermination (physical genocide) to assimilation (cultural genocide). Indeed, its legacy of anti-Indian abuses of power staggers the imagination and remains a source of profound shame for nearly every American of conscience who is aware of this relentless assault on all things Indian. In his capacity as assistant secretary for Indian affairs under the Clinton administration (November 1997 to January 2001), Gover took the occasion of the BIA's 175th anniversary as an opportunity to make history by apologizing for it."
The AS-IA promised never again...
"...Never again will this agency stand silent when hate and violence are committed against Indians. Never again will we allow policy to proceed from the assumption that Indians possess less human genius than the other races.Never again will we be complicit in the theft of lndian property. Never again will we appoint false leaders who serve purposes other than those of the tribes. Never again will we allow unflattering and stereotypical images of Indian people to deface the halls of government or
lead the American people to shallow and ignorant beliefs about Indians. Never again will we attack your religions, your languages, your rituals, or any of your tribal ways. Never again will we seize your children, nor teach them to be ashamed of who they are. Never again."
If you look at the dictionary for the definition of empty apology it points to this speech of Kevin Gover.
I actually think that Gover intended this apology to be meaningful and to direct the BIA toward a commitment to the general welfare of tribes, but therein lies the rub. The BIA thinks tribes are represented by their leaders and treat the leaders with deference. Individual Indians on the other hand are worthy of termination through disenrollment, denial of access to programs and services, and abuse of due process. I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
As for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, they apparently believe that providing programs and services managed by the BIA somehow makes up for the harm and damage inflicted by the BIA. They do absolutely nothing to prevent further harm and damage, and endorse BIA corruption by entrusting the agency to manage programs, distribute funding, and provide services with endemic bias and discrimination.
Another investigation is merely another opportunity to provide lip service to the problem. What we need is the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to formally provide brief as Amicus Curiae in the Aguayo v. Jewell petition for certiorari. James Diamond of the University of Arizona, Rogers School of Law, has made the provocative statement that the federal trust duty to Indians provides that protection of tribal citizenship supersedes the protection of the tribal right to restrict membership.
This means an experienced and well-respected legal mind views the BIA endorsement of disenrollment as a protection of a tribe's right to restrict membership. This is far different wording from Santa Clara Pueblos v. Martinez where the Supreme Court opined that tribes have right to determine their own membership.
This is a solution oriented response that does not call for lengthy and expensive investigation of allegations of BIA corruption. It is short and to the point. Do something that actually makes legal sense and would provide guidance to the BIA in terms of fulfilling the federal trust responsibility.
Do we trust the BIA with the trust responsibility?