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AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS FOR 1970
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND
JULIA BUTLER HANSEN, Washington, Chairman
BEN REIFEL, South Dakota
JOSEPH M. McDADE, Pennsylvania
WENDELL WYATT, Oregon
GEORGE E. EVANS, Staff Assistant to the Subcommittee
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Outdoor Recreation
National Park Service
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1969
We admit we still have our problems, but I think many of us will recognize that these problems can be solved by increasing our activities even though we have had to short-change, due to the expenditure of money for other things, these activities. But I do think, Commissioner Bennett, that we have improved the situation in recent years. It is in a cooperative spirit that the committee welcomes you this morning to discuss very frankly not only your justifications but our mutual problems in the Indian programs. I think the best comment was from one of the Navajos who said “After all we are trying to accomplish something, we aren't burning our Nation down.”
Now I am sure you have a general statement ard if you wish to place that in the record at this point and then summarize it for us, we would be delighted. And I would like you, when you are making your statement to review the progress that you feel you have made during the past 5 years so that we may spell out our successes as well as the failures.
Mr. REIFEL. Madam Chairman, might I add, as the Commissioner moves into this last phase you just covered, we hear a lot today about panaceas for solving the difficulties which Indians face in this country. I wonder if he might at the end, to the extent he won't cover it in his general statement, tell us what his thoughts are along this line. I think this would help to complete the general statement for the record.
Mr. BENNETT. Thank you very much. It is always, of course, a pleasure to be before this committee where we have the understanding leadership who are acquainted first-hand both from their own background as well as their responsibilities in Congress with the local Indian situation.
I have a few remarks to make which are intended to bring another dimension into the discussion today.
It is good to be before you again in this period of history when the Indian minority is being discovered or rediscovered. I hope that funds will be provided for the long haul of human development and not be diverted to panaceas of the new discoverers of Indians. Some of them, whose panaceas have not been accepted by Indian tribes or even presented to them, find their way into high positions in Government and then seek to impose their will on Indian people from their positions of vantage as staff officers in the Government or in the Congress.
Study, upon study is not the answer, particularly when these designed to develop new ideas and new innovations, recommend that the Bureau itself come up with the ideas and innovations that the studies were set up to develop and take away the initiative of Indian people to propose solutions to problems they know and understand. What is the answer given by most who invite themselves in a study of Indian affairs? These answers generally fall into two classic categories: (1) Transfer the functions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to another agency-Federal, State, or local-it does not matter which; or (2) abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
This emotional concentration upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs is a part of the antiestablishment syndrome of some so-called bright and sometimes angry young men—who equate anger with intelligence-makes them proponents of the same grave injustice of which
they accuse the Bureau of Indian Affairs; namely, lack of Indian involvement altogether, or lack of involving leaders of the "Indian” establishment, such as tribal councils, and so forth. Many of these people are seeking recognition for themselves and respectability for their ideas under the antiestablishment syndrome by involving themselves in Indian affairs, most without invitation by Indian leaders. They seek to discredit those of us like members of this committee who have worked many years with and for the Indian minority even before it was fashionable to be involved with minority groups.
The main criticism of many, both in Government and outside, is not what we are doing as they are of the fact that we are doing it and they want to take our place to be the ones to work in partnership with the Indian people.
FEDERAL ROLE IN INDIAN AFFAIRS
Most of what we are doing is predicated upon the hopes, desires, and aspirations of Indian people. The Federal Government's role should be to help them achieve their hopes and aspirations, therefore, Government officials should not let their personal biases enter into the decisionmaking process, nor should their personal opinions be imposed upon the Indians.
come to you also after 36 years of listening to Indian people, and I say that the answers to their problems lay with them. Whenever I want help, ideas, stimulation, or inspiration, I go to the Indian people. There is where we should concentrate our efforts, and there is where those who are now becoming concerned with Indians should begin, and not be overly concerned, as most of them are, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Indian people are well aware that they can bring about the transfer or the abolishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and end my tenure as Commissioner should they so choose.
A major premise upon which the programs before you are based is that of maximum involvement of the Indian people. We interpret self-help, self-development, and self-determination as meaning full involvement of the Indians as partners in all matters affecting their welfare. We believe this is a sound policy. Unilateral actions by the Government for the Indian have too often left the Indian in a stagnant eddy of nonparticipation.
This emphasis on involvement shows up in the material before you in several ways.
INDIAN INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOL BOARDS
We have projected the involvement of 10 Indian communities in school boards—boards that actually have responsibility to control the operation of their school within the guidelines and requirements set forth in a contract with the Bureau through the establishment of Project Tribe (tribal responsibility in better education).
This concept was delivered by me in a speech in January 1966 to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, when I dedicated their school, so this is nothing new as far as the Bureau of Indian Affairs is concerned.
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Mrs. HANSEN. I understand, Mr. Commissioner. Most of us who sit here understand very well.
TRIBAL WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAM
Mr. BENNETT. Another example of Indian involvement is the proposed expansion of the tribal work experience program for persons who would otherwise receive welfare assistance. The device used for funding is a contract with the tribe. This program already has demonstrated that Indians would rather work than be on welfare in most instances. It will also contribute toward the development of a stable labor force which can facilitate industrial development. We have 12 tribes now administering their general assistance program.
Mrs. HANSEN. Would you place in the record those tribes?
Mr. BENNETT. Yes, ma'am. And also some of the individuals who started out as general assistance clients on this work program and are now gainfully employed in some of the industries coming on to the reservation.
(The information follows:)
There are tribal work experience projects in operation at the following jurisdictions: Crow Creek (Pierre Agency)
Northern Cheyenne Fort Belknap
INDIAN WELFARE ASSISTANCE
Mr. REIFEL. Madam Chairman, if I might inject at this point and particularly in reference to what you just said in regard to this type of work program, the Commissioner will recall that when I was an area director and he was an assistant area director, Indian tribal leaders came in and said the welfare programs as they are administered ought to be changed to permit some kind of a work program, because we are having general assistance money used to give to able-bodied men and women who were willing to work. We wrote in to the Indian Bureau but we were informed that the policies of the national welfare program where general assistance is given, is regarded as an entitlement and therefore they should not have to work for it.
So belatedly now, after 10 years, we are beginning to get through to the welfare agencies of the Federal Government under which the Bureau had to set up its guidelines; and I guess really getting through to the Nation that there is some adjustments that have to be made in the welfare programs in order that people can have their dignity restored to them.
Mr. BENNETT. I understand we had two additional tribes join the program in January, so we have 14 now.
Indian involvement occurs in the management of their lands, range, and forests; tribal councils and the superintendents discuss policy matters and specific proposals affecting the reservation and generally mutually agree on the appropriate policy or action.
Indians employ their own attorneys; many tribes finance and largely operate activties such as law and order, utilities, and other service operations; tribes file their applications with HUD, EDA, and SBA. Indians are involved and should become more involved.
Education involves the largest investment proposed. It is my view that the entire Bureau is basically an educational instrumentality, as has been implied in the previous points of increased employment, training, Indian involvement, and coordination of effort.
Here, however, I am referring to the more formal education provided by our schools and by the public schools. Education is the basic key to longrun development of any people. As H. G. Wells said in 1920: "Human history is a race between education and catastrophe.” The improvements proposed in this budget are necessary, I believe, if we are to most effectively reach the goal of maximum Indian development, full employment, and a standard of living comparable to other Americans. Education undergirds all our other efforts—and if we do the job that is possible—will be a major factor in achieving Indian objectives.
We need to bring into balance the opportunities for post-high-school training for Indian young people. We need to change the Government's posture, which says to young Indian people: "Twenty-five million dollars to be barbers, clerks, et cetera, but only $3 million to be teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.” Our primary need, of course, is to improve the quality of education and provide our young Indian people with all of the opportunities to develop wholesome lives in the image of man and God.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND HIGHER EDUCATION
I would like to state at this point, Madam Chairman, that one of the difficulties we have in adult vocational training and higher education is that we have young people who finish high school, as you realize, at an earlier age than they did before, and they decide they want to be a draftsman or a clerk or something and they go into this program and after they are in 2 or 3 months, they decide I should have gone to college, but there is no way we can get them from that program into college then, because at that time all of our money for higher education is granted out.
Then this individual, although there is money set up under the adult vocational training program for this person's course, we cannot transfer that person and his money over into the employment assistance program, or the higher education program, because it is a special authorization under Public Law 959.
Mrs. HANSEN. Therefore it is really a lack of flexibility in budgeting procedures?
Mr. BENNETT. Yes. They get locked in. Once they are on a course of being a draftsman or something like that, and the money is set aside for the course, they are locked in on the course. If they decide to go to college, they have to wait until their turn comes.
Års. HANSEN. Isn't it true, Commissioner Bennett, that all young people change their minds. This is one of the elements of youth?