Piliero Mazza & Pargament, PLLC Vol. 3, Issue 2 February 2001

Addressing Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation Legal and Business Issues

The articles shown here are excerpts -- if you'd like to subscribe to Tribal Advocate, please contact Susan Brock at (202) 857-1000 or at


TRIBAL LAND Final Land Acquisition Regulations Issued by BIA

LEGISLATION New Chairmen/New Rules May Impact Native American & Alaska Native Legislation

INTERVIEWS WITH TRIBAL LEADERS ACROSS AMERICA Interview with Governor Alvidrez – January 5, 2001

ON THE HILL How a Bill Becomes Law

INDIAN HEALTH Indian Health Service Holds Level of Need Funding Workgroup Regional Consultation in Washington, D.C.

FEDERAL Temporary Fule Issued for Distribution of IRR Funds

ASK THE ADVOCATE Who is Gale Norton?


Final Land Acquisition Regulations Issued by BIA

On January 16, 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued final land acquisition regulations. These regulations revise and clarify the procedures for requesting trust status, establish definite criteria for the BIA in determining whether an application for trust status should be granted, describe the procedure for mandatory acquisitions and establish a procedure whereby tribes with no reservation or functional trust land can establish a tribal land acquisition area. These regulations were scheduled to become effective on February 15, 2001. However, upon taking office, President Bush issued an Executive Order requiring a 60-day postponement of the effective date of certain published regulations that had not yet taken effect. According to the Office of Trust Responsibilities, the effective date of the new land acquisition regulations has been postponed for a period of 60 days in compliance with the President's mandate.

These regulations were originally published on April 12, 1999. Almost two years and several hundred comments later, the BIA issued regulations that are substantially similar to the ones that were originally proposed. (See the September 1999 issue of the Tribal Advocate for discussion of proposed rule.) The major amendments in the final rule include the following: the inclusion of tribes with no trust land or non-functional trust land to the list of tribes eligible to apply for a tribal land acquisition area (TLAA); a provision establishing time guidelines for the issuance of a decision regarding trust status; a provision regarding the applicability of the new rule to pending trust applications; clarifications consistent with a presumption of approval for applications addressing on-reservation land; and clarifications consistent with an enhanced consideration of local government interests with respect to applications involving off-reservation land.



New Chairmen/New Rules May Impact Native American & Alaska Native Legislation

In many ways, the 107th Congress appears to be similar to its predecessor: a vast majority of incumbents, a Republican majority, and a similar set of issues. However, there is one notable and crucial change in each chamber this year that could greatly affect consideration of Native American and Alaska Native legislation in the upcoming Congress. In the House of Representatives, the Republican leadership has elected several new committee chairpersons, in accordance with their 1995 promise that chairmen would serve no more than six-year terms. The affected committees include those that deal with the majority of Native American and Alaska Native legislation and issues. In the Senate, the 50-50 split has created a new power-sharing agreement between Democrats and Republicans that will change the way that all legislation passes through the Senate. The following is a brief summary of these significant changes to the House and Senate.

The House Committee on Resources, which deals with matters concerning Alaska public land and federal reserved water rights, matters relating to the management of Indian lands and the payment of land claims out of Indian funds, and all matters regarding the relationships of the United States with Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, will now be chaired by Representative Jim Hansen (R-UT). He replaces Representative Don Young (R-AK), who will now chair the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Representative Hansen had previously chaired the Resource Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. Representative Young will still sit on the committee and should retain a significant influence as its second ranking member. During Congressman Young's tenure, all Native American issues were handled at full committee level. However, now we understand that these issues will be handled by a yet-to-be-determined subcommittee.




Interview with Governor Alvidrez

January 5, 2001

The Tribal Advocate is pleased to present a new feature article, "Interviews with Tribal Leaders Across America - Economic Development on the Reservation." Several times a year, the Tribal Advocate intends to interview a Tribal Leader or a CEO from a tribe or Alaska Native Enterprise or Corporation. These interviews are offered in hopes that discussions on ways in which particular tribes are working to develop economically will be beneficial to others.

This article features the Tigua Indian Tribe of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo located in El Paso, Texas. Tribal Governor Albert Alvidrez was kind enough to speak with the Tribal Advocate and offer the following information.

Tribal Advocate (TA): Governor Alvidrez, congratulations on your re-election to a second term as governor of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. I understand that you, six-term Lieutenant Governor Filbert Candelaria and the entire Tribal Council were re-elected for 2001. Please share a little about the Pueblo and how it is governed.

Governor Alvidrez (Governor): Thank you. The Pueblo is governed by oral tradition. We have no constitution or other organizing documents. Oral tradition vests the authority to govern in the Tribal Council which includes the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Tribal Alguacil or Sheriff, the War Captain, four Councilmen and our Cacique or Tribal Chief who is the titular head of the tribe and is responsible for maintaining the traditions and rituals for the tribe. The Cacique is the ultimate authority for all tribal members. Our traditional Tribal Council elections are held shortly after sunset each December 31.



How a Bill Becomes Law

With the start of a new Congress, the Tribal Advocate thought it may be beneficial to review the basic process of how a bill becomes a law. The accompanying graph illustrates the lawmaking process as described below.

When a member of Congress introduces a bill, the parliamentarian and leadership of the receiving body refer the bill to the appropriate committee. Often, a bill can be referred to more than one committee (especially in the House). Committee staff refers the bill to a subcommittee, if appropriate.

Hearings can be held by either the subcommittee or the full committee. Usually the subcommittee is where the bill receives its most thorough consideration through the "mark-up" process where revisions and/or additions are made. During the subcommittee markup, the subcommittee can make amendments to the bill by majority vote and then report it to the committee. On occasion a bill will not be marked up by a subcommittee but will move directly to committee. The committee can pass the bill by majority vote (with or without amendment) and report the bill to the full chamber, often with a written report accompanying the bill.



Indian Health Service Holds Level of Need Funding Workgroup Regional Consultation in Washington, D.C.

On January 9 and 10, 2001, the Indian Health Service held a consultation in Washington, D.C. to address the distribution of some $40 million in Indian Health Care Improvement Funds (IHCIF). The purpose of the consultation was to allow tribes to make comments and suggestions to the Level of Need Funding ("LNF") Workgroup for the distribution of these funds.

The LNF Workgroup is a joint tribal-IHS committee that was formed for the purpose of developing a methodology for the distribution of IHCIF that takes into account the ideas and opinions of tribes. The D.C. consultation was the last of three consultations held in different areas of the United States. A National Consultation Meeting will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico the week of March 5, 2001. The following topics will be addressed during the week-long meeting: March 5, Contract Support Costs; March 6-7, LNF; March 8-9, Contract Health Services.



Temporary Rule Issued for Distribution of IRR Funds

On January 9, 2001, the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA"), issued a temporary rule requiring the distribution of 75% of fiscal year 2001 Indian Reservation Roads funds. These funds are to be distributed to projects on or near Indian reservations using the relative need formula. The temporary rule also provides for the reservation of funds to allow federally-recognized tribes to apply for up to $35,000 for administrative capacity building and other eligible transportation activities for fiscal year 2001. The remaining 25% of the funds will be distributed under the same relative need formula as the initial 75%, after all comments to the temporary rule have been reviewed and any necessary changes to the distribution are made. The deadline for submitting comments is February 8, 2001.


Ask the Advocate

On December 29, 2000, President-elect George Bush nominated Gale Norton to become the next Secretary of the Interior. The Tribal Advocate has received several inquiries regarding Ms. Norton, especially in light of the controversies surrounding her nomination.

Q. Who is Gale Norton and what is her general background?

A. A graduate of the University of Denver, Ms. Norton started her career in 1979 as a staffer at the Mountain States Legal Foundation, whose alumni include President Reagan's Secretary of Interior James Watt and Ann Gorsuch, President Reagan's EPA Administrator.

In 1983 Ms. Norton became a Scholar at Stanford University's conservative Hoover Institute, where she supported the idea of market incentives as a way to control air pollution. In 1985, after Secretary Watt resigned, Ms. Norton was appointed associate solicitor at the Department of the Interior, where she worked to open the Arctic National Wildlife to oil drilling. She then became a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, a conservative think tank that has argued against legislation restricting urban sprawl.


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