Trump hesitates on Bureau of Indian Affairs decision

`The Bureau of Indian Affairs deserves a permanent leader; waiting over half a year to appoint a worthy candidate is unacceptable.
The BIA handles matters of Native American land and other resources, tribal legitimacy, and other matters related to Native Americans. As a government organization, the BIA has had a history of friction with tribal organizations for putting the federal government’s interests over those of the Native American people. However, a properly managed BIA can successfully work towards tribal and government cooperation.
President Trump has held office for eight months now, more than enough time to suggest a candidate for the position to be approved by the Senate. While progress has been made in some areas of filling the bureaucracy, such as the appointment of John Tahsuda III as principal deputy assistant secretary of the BIA, procrastinating on filling the top spot deeply affects the Native American population nationwide.
Professor Brian Hosmer at the University of Tulsa notes that “The BIA is the [Native Americans’] place at the table.” Refusing to hire a department head muffles a large part of the Native American voice.
That being said, the government must not be hasty and should spend the time to choose wisely. The problem exists in the lack of time spent on the issue in general.
The BIA “has been historically problematic” Hosmer said, suggesting the new leader needs to have a decent background in tribal affairs and should be carefully considered to ensure their priorities lie with just treatment of the Native people and productive cooperation with tribal interests.
States with large Indian Nations should bring pressure upon the federal government to appoint someone.
Hosmer said states should “remind [the government] how Native peoples bring in resources through the BIA, and if the federal government wants a say in what to do with the resources, they should fully fill the BIA administration.”
Kevin K. Washburn, who served until 2016, had experience from the National Indian Gaming Association, and perhaps that is a good place to look now.
The NIGA’s current Chairman Ernest L. Stevens, or his Chief of Staff Debbie Thundercloud, could be possible picks. Other places to look would be leaders in the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and leaders of Indian Nations across the country.
It should also be noted that not a day should be wasted in finding a replacement considering the practice of the Senate needing to approve the appointed candidate. For example, the Senate approved Carl J. Artman for the bureau’s head position seven months after he was appointed.
As each day goes on, the government overlooks the importance of giving the Native people a voice, and Trump needs to resolve this as soon as possible.
Tribal leaders need to apply pressure on the federal government, namely Trump, to prioritize choosing a new Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to be approved by the Senate. While the Senate spends time approving the choice, the rest of the government can focus on other things in the meantime.

Post Author: Brennen Gray