Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Visits with Tribal Council
Echo Hawk is Highest Ranking BIA Official to ever Visit Red Lake
The highest ranking BIA official to ever visit Red Lake, Larry Echo Hawk, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs spent nearly six hours visiting with Red Lake Tribal Officials on Wednesday afternoon August 10th, 2011.
Echo Hawk, a former Idaho Attorney General and state legislator, was confirmed Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs on May 20, 2009. President Obama nominated him for the position on April 20, 2009. In this capacity he oversees and coordinates policy decisions for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education. A member of the Pawnee Nation, Echo Hawk was elected Attorney General of Idaho in 1990, the first American Indian in U.S. history elected as a state attorney general.
Echo Hawk came to do business and brought with him a large contingent of decision makers, including:
• Darren Cruzan, (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma) Deputy Bureau Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Justice Services (OJS);
• Jack Rever, Director of BIA Management Support Services, Facilities Management and Construction, Division of Safety and Risk Management, and the Division of Environmental and Cultural Resources Management.
• Bryan Newland, Councilor (Lawyer) and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary
• Valerie Gravseth, Northwest Field Representative for Senator Al Franken
The Red Lake Tribal Council responded in kind to the visit from the high-powered delegation, with nearly all Tribal Council members in attendance throughout the five-plus hour visit.
Introductions began about 3:00 PM in the Tribal Council Chambers. Red Lake Tribal Treasurer Darrell G. Seki, Sr. and David Conner, DNR Administrative officer and Acting Self Governance Coordinator, who have had occasion to work with Echo Hawk, praised the BIA official for being a “good listener” and thanked him for coming.
After a primer on Red Lake Nation by Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr. and others, the group boarded a bus from New Beginnings (Oshki-maajiitaawinan) for a brief tour of the area. The first stop was the old jail and courts building. Chairman Jourdain told the Assistant Secretary that he’d like Echo Hawk to see what the tribe was operating out of before the new Criminal Justice Complex was built. The contrast is stark.
From there the large group bussed past the High School and powwow grounds. All exited the bus to take a look at the lake and have a photo session. Boarding the bus again, the contingent of policy makers proceeded a drive by tour of the new Greenhouse and Elementary School.
A longer time would be spent touring the Criminal Justice Complex. First the group was escorted through the Courts side of the complex by Court Administrator Fabian Hurd. Next Public Safety Director Bill Brunelle, gave a tour of the Law Enforcement Facility, before turning the reins over to Shay Iceman who gave tours of the adult and juvenile detention areas.
Echo Hawk and Cruzan were very impressed with the professionalism and look of the Criminal Justice Complex (CJC) and how it was run and said so.
"We’d expect to see a well-run system if people know we are coming, but we seldom see a first class operation such as this when we arrive unannounced," said Cruzan. “We’re very impressed."
Last on the tour was the Juvenile Detention facility, the main reason for the Tribe’s request for a visit from Echo Hawk. The juvenile detention center was built in 2005 with U.S. Justice Department grants, but it never opened because the band could not get operating funds from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
Finally the group bussed over for a dinner of World Famous Red Lake Walleye at Seven Clans Event center. As is customary, the guests were given several gifts by Red Lake officials.
At about 8:00 pm the group retired to resume discussion of several agenda items in the Seven Clans Board Room. Items on the agenda were as follows:
1. Red Lake Juvenile Detention Facility, future use and funding of facility, and BIA funding for the facility operations and maintenance (O&M)
2. BIA Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) funds distribution Inequities
3. Pay Costs inequities and Shortfalls
4. Facilities O&M Funding Problem for New Law Enforcement/Courts Facility
5. Circle of Flight Program
6. One time Office of Justice Services (OJS) funds.
Red Lake Juvenile Detention Facility
The Red Lake Juvenile Detention Facility is a 13,575 square foot building designed to provide minimum security detention services to adjudicated, at-risk juveniles. The Facility was designed to hold up to 24 juveniles (16 male and 8 female). Funding to build the Facility was provided through a Department of Justice (DOJ) Correctional Facilities grant. The design of the Facility was approved by the BIA prior to construction. The Facility was completed and certified for occupancy by the BIA in 2005. The BIA placed the Facility in its Facilities Operation and Maintenance system to provide funds for ongoing Facility maintenance, and also provided furnishings for the Facility. Under policies first set forth by former Attorney General Janet Reno and former Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover, the BIA agreed to request operations funding for new Indian Country detention facilities which were built with DOJ Correctional Facilities grant funds. Last year, Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk affirmed to the Senate Subcommittee on Indian Affairs this policy was still in place. To date, the BIA has not requested funds to operate the Facility.
Funding for operation of the Facility was the subject of a law suit between the Red Lake Band and the United States, which was settled in May of 2010. The settlement agreement does not obligate the Department of Interior to fund or seek funding for the operation of the Facility. Nor does it preclude the Department from doing so.
Red Lake has enormous need for juvenile corrections services which could be addressed by opening the Facility. The Facility will serve adjudicated offenders that are not served by, nor suitable for service by, the existing detention facility e.g. truants. The Tribe expects to operate the Facility at its maximum capacity of 24 juveniles on a recurring basis. The public good is not served by the Facility remaining closed.
The main purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss the need and future use of the Facility. Questions to be addressed include:
• Will opening of the Facility help to address the Tribe’s need for juvenile corrections services for our at-risk youth?
• Is the Facility design consistent with the corrections mission of the BIA? If not, can modifications be made to the Facility to make it consistent?
• If the Facility meets, or is made to meet, the BIA’s corrections mission, can the BIA request funding, pursuant to current policies, to operate the Facility?
Consensus was that Red Lake representatives would work with (BIA staff in attendance) Jack Rever and Darren Cruzan to first examine the process that was used at Duck Valley, a similar situation to Red Lake that has been solved. A positive resolution is hoped for. (The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is homeland for members of both the Shoshone and Paiute tribes.
Red Lake Indian Reservation Roads Program (IRR)
According to James “Dino” Garrigan, the current method of distributing Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) funding to Indian tribes is fatally flawed and the IRR program has become a State and County Road program.
The Land Based and rural tribes continue to lose millions of dollars of IRR funding. Last year Red Lake suffered a reduction of 8.2% and a further reduction of 22.7% this year. The Red Lake Band’s formula allocation since 2009 has been declining at an alarming rate.
Red Lake’s needs arise from tribal and BIA roads, and meeting them relies on IRR funding. “The geographic isolation of the Red Lake Reservation prohibits us from competing in a system that now includes Interstates/NHS highways, and State and County roads onto the IRR system just to reap the inflated formula amounts”, said Garrigan.
The Indian Reservation Road Inventory should be frozen at the 2006 level and a review of the data conducted by an independent consultant.
The Tribal Transportation Allocation Methodology (TTAM) distribution should be replaced by a distribution methodology that considers Land and Population, OR 75 percent of the funding for the IRR system should be reserved for BIA and Tribal system roads under the TTAM..
Echo Hawk said he would look into the problem and attempt to fix it.
Pay Costs: Inequities and Shortfalls
Most Federal agencies receive annual Fixed Cost additions each year to address uncontrollable cost increases including, but not limited to, Fringe Benefit Fixed Costs and Pay Costs. Tribes have historically been disadvantaged in that they had never received Fringe Benefit Fixed Cost adjustments, only Pay Cost adjustments.
For tribes, annual Pay Cost adjustments represent the only inflationary increase received since the TPA was frozen back in 1996. The effect of partially (or zero) funding Pay Costs has had a devastating impact to tribes in terms of the loss of critical jobs.
For FY 2011, re-examine the calculations made for tribal Pay Costs, and consider providing full funding for Pay Costs.
For FY 2012, work with tribes to ensure correct salary figures are used to calculate Pay Costs, and use a realistic inflationary factor, such as the current inflation rate of 3.6%.
For FY 2013, include full tribal Pay Cost funding in BIA’s budget request, using a realistic inflationary factor, such as the current inflation rate of 3.6%.
The priority issue is tribal pay costs in the 2013 BIA budget. Echo Hawk said that because they're still faced with preparing a budget option for 2013 that is 10% less than 2010/11, he could make no guarantees. Red Lake wishes to pursue this request vigorously, and will make itself available in any manner to provide any assistance.
Facilities O&M Funding Problem for New Law Enforcement/Courts Facility
Several years ago the Tribe borrowed more than $4.5 million to build a new BIA-OJS Law Enforcement/Courts facility. Red Lake did this because the existing BIA Law Enforcement/Courts facility was condemned by the BIA and was a danger to staff, and, because the BIA said they did not have the money to build a new facility. The facility was operational at the start of 2009. Red Lake notified the BIA two years prior that this facility needed to be added to the FMIS (Facilities Management Information System) system in 2009, but somehow the process fell through the cracks.
The new Law Enforcement/Courts facility has been classified under the Detention Facilities Administration program by BIA, not the Facilities Administration program where the old Law Enforcement/Courts facility was classified.
Reclassify the new Law Enforcement/Courts facility under the Facilities Administration program, where the BIA had previously classified the old Law Enforcement/Courts facility, OR leave the new building under the Detention Facilities Administration program, and the BIA support a realistic Base increase to this program, which reflects the additional costs the Tribe must bear to maintain the new facility.
Red Lake believes this request reasonable on its face, but yet even more in light of the fact the Tribe invested more than $4.5 million to replace the old BIA Law Enforcement/Courts facility, which had been condemned by the BIA, and which arguably, the BIA was responsible to replace.
Attending BIA staff, Jack Rever, Director of BIA Management Support Services will look into this.
Circle of Flight.
Circle of Flight is a specific program designed to increase the number of waterfowl which nest in and around Red Lake’s Waterfowl Management Areas. A Tribal Wetland & Waterfowl Enhancement Initiative.
Red Lake DNR has heard that the BIA was contemplating eliminating the Circle of Flight from the 2013 budget. Red Lake is opposed and feels this would be dangerous in today's environment. Conner provided copies of the 2010 Partners in Conversation award signed by Secretary Salazar to both Larry Echo Hawk and Bryan Newland. Both are familiar with the program and do not think the BIA would remove a top performer from its budget. They promised to follow-up on the issue.
One time Office of Justice Services (OJS) funds.
The Red Lake delegation also made a pitch and provided a letter requesting one time Office of Justice Services (OJS) funds. The letter given to provided a letter to Echo Hawk, Newland, and Cruzon, shows that the Tribe expects a $2.2 million shortfall to operate its public safety programs in 2011. Red Lake is requesting any additional one time funds OJS might be able to find to help bridge the funding gap. Red Lake respects that funds are tight, and appreciates the help OJS was able to provide last year. If any they any extra one time funds are found, it would be of great help to to Red Lake Public Safety.