LETTER TO SENATOR REID REQUESTS HELP FOR WESTERN SHOSHONES
Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Reid:
As the recognized leaders –both elected Tribal Council Chairmen and recognized standing Committee Chairs of the Western Shoshones –come to you as a long standing respected supporter of our people’s issues regarding our effort to bring closure to our U.S. Court of Claims settlement (1951-1977). Your advocacy and assistance in the Senate’s passage of a “Plan” for distribution in 2004 (P.L. 108-270) and your help to secure financing to implement the BIA’s “application process” was sincerely appreciated. Since the passage of the “Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act” five years ago (July 7th begins the sixth year), not one individual has been qualified by the BIA for inclusion on the “Western Shoshone Judgment Roll”, though 7,500 applications have been filed since April 4, 2007.
A “Contract” was awarded on 7/28/08 to NAID (Native American Industrial Distributor, Inc.), which enabled additional personnel to be hired at the BIA Phoenix Regional Office in Arizona to help with the Three Phase application review procedure. The “Contract Project Office” opened ten months ago (8/18/08) and continues to work on the files and inputting data (Progeny Plus). Under the contract, both the Project Office and the BIA have unique and separate “deliverables” to be accomplished in the execution of the application process. If either party does NOT make satisfactory progress in fulfilling their individual roles, the entire procedure will inevitably be STALLED. Herein, lays the failing and why 17 leaders of the Western Shoshone people requested a meeting with the BIA on March 3, 2009, to discuss difficulties brought to their attention by applicants. As a follow-up, the Nevada attendees, in the interest of maintaining focus on the issues, mailed a “Western Shoshone Status Report” (3/25/09) and later a “Tracking Notification on Progress of Identified Problems” (4/9/09) to various BIA officials and others.
After the conference, BIA communication to the Shoshone Tribes and Steering Committee regarding the progress being made on the identified problems and solutions was to be handled via a “Monthly Progress Report” and a public meeting in June….. NONE of which transpired. Additionally, a letter of inquiry (6/10) written to the Western Regional Director, Mr. Allan Anspach, brought NO RESPONSE.
Unfortunately, because there appears to be a lack of advocacy, focus, accountability, follow-through and efficiency on the part of some within the BIA structure, we sincerely regret that we are compelled to request assistance from your office in moving toward the next level of administrative responsibility – that being direct communication with the Secretary of Interior and the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. The major issues needing immediate attention that continue to languish are:
1. Added BIA personnel to assist in the BIA Phoenix Tribal Service Office for cross-referencing prior land claims payments. No one is available to work exclusively on this major task.
2. Concentrated effort by the BIA to complete methodology for input of the Data Census Roll into Progeny Plus for use in the Contract Project Office so blood degrees can be determined. No determination of recipients can be completed until this is done.
3. BIA Monthly Progress reports to Tribes and Steering Committee.
4. BIA / NAID improvement in the ambiguity of time frames and determination of more specific goals for “deliverables” in more quantifiable terms so tribal entities can project attainment of goals. (Cont.)
5. OST and BIA development of“Permission to Release Information” for the Educational Administrative Committee (scholarships).
6. Written BIA directive by Associate Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Indian Services, on BIA “conflict of Interest” policy regarding access or influence on application process, appeals, etc. to BIA personnel who or whose family members may be applicants for the Western Shoshone Claims.
Again, “thank you”, Senator Reid, for your time and effort on behalf of the Western Shoshone people. We look forward to hearing of a successful meeting and plans by the BIA to obligate the necessary resources and personnel to bring the identified problem to conclusion.
Furthermore, In recognition of and in agreement with the aforementioned, WE do HEREBY, AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES and, additionally, following are attached Petitions of Support from the Western Shoshone people as confirmation of their interest in this matter:
Duckwater, Nevada: Duckwater Shoshone Tribe: Virginia Sanchez, Tribal Chairman
Elko, Nevada: Te-Moak Shoshone Tribe: Davis Gonzales, Tribal Chairman
Elko, Nevada: Western Shoshone Claims Steering Committee: Felix Ike, Lead Co-Chair
Ely, Nevada: Ely Shoshone Tribe: Alvin Marques, Tribal Chairman
Fallon, Nevada: Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe: Alvin Moyle, Tribal Chairman
Fallon, Nevada: Western Shoshone Claims Steering Committee: Nancy Stewart, Lead Co-Chair
Owyhee, Nevada: Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribe: Kyle Prior, WSC Chairman
Fallon, Nevada: Shoshone Band Liaison: Laura Nihoa, Tribal Secretary
Ms. Tracy Hartzler-Toon, Counsel to the Majority, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Mr. Wizipan Garriot, First Americans’ Public Liaison (President Obama Transition Team)