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Great Plains Tribes Hope To Give Input On BIA Reorganization

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Chairman of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association says he spoke with US Secretary of the Department of Interior about tribal input during reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Secretary Ryan Zinke visited both Dakota’s and Montana last week as part of a 10-day trip.

Last year, President Donald Trump called for a reorganization of the executive branch. Included in that is reorganizing the BIA.

Chairman Harold Frazier is also chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He says Secretary Zinke told him that Native Americans will drive the reorganization of the BIA.

Frazier says he’s hopeful Secretary Zinke is true to his word. He says part of that reorganization is moving BIA offices.

“It’s pretty hard for us to communicate with our area office, whether its BIA or IHS. So, it’s important that that communication is there," Frazier says. "One of the things that I’m going to advocate for, as well as our chairman, is that is to follow our treaties. In our treaties it says there’s an agent on the reservation, and if we can’t resolve it we go to the commissioner of Indian Affairs and I think that’s a good model for us to use. Because we like to have all the control and authority to make decisions at the local level.”

During an appearance at the Black Hills National Cemetery for Memorial Day services, Secretary Zinke says part of delivering reorganization is more access for local decisions.

“You also have to look at it being more flexible and giving the authority to the front line, rather than having to go to Washington DC to ask for permission to do, which is common sense," Zinke says. "A lot of it is just pushing more authority to the front lines.”

Zinke says tribal communities deserve better medical care and education.