Murkowski protests new BIA rules

Posted: Sunday, December 10, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- New Bureau of Indian Affairs rules that could keep Alaska Natives from receiving certain BIA benefits should be immediately suspended, according to Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski.

Murkowski said regulations issued last month will bar many Alaska Natives from getting BIA social service and financial benefits.

The regulation limits those benefits to Native Americans whose names are formally on tribal rolls.

Murkowski said that could prevent thousands of Alaska Natives who have moved to or grown up in more urban areas of the state from receiving the benefits or services.

In a letter to Kevin Gover, outgoing assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Murkowski accused the BIA of ignoring Native eligibility standards.

Murkowski said the rules also would be a violation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

''As you know, ANCSA did not require Alaska Natives to be enrolled in a tribe to receive BIA services, only to meet the blood quantum requirement,'' Murkowski wrote.

He also noted ANCSA's provision that Alaska Natives would remain eligible for all federal Indian programs on the same basis as other Native Americans.

''In spite of the fact that your agency was informed during the public comment period that the proposed regulations violated ANCSA, the BIA ignore these comments and finalized the rules anyway,'' Murkowski wrote.

He said many Alaska Natives are probably unaware of the impact of the proposed rule and he urged the BIA to hold public hearings on the issue in Alaska.

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