It has been reported that:
- Information fed into the BIA's computer system is disorganized and erroneous.
- An estimated $5.8 billion has not been collected (since 1979) from companies that pump oil and gas from reservation lands, thus robbing Indians.
- In some cases, money that belonged to individual Indians and tribes was deposited in slush funds through accounts set up under phony names.
- There are thirty recent incidents in which federal employees were allegedly involved in theft, embezzlement and fraud on Indian reservations, yet few were prosecuted.
- BIA sponsored Indian programs failed to improve the economies of reservations, and the BIA failed to provide quality education for Indian children.
- Housing programs are riddled with scandal, and housing in many areas is shockingly substandard.
- Indian health remains poor, with diabetes reaching epidemic proportions on some reservations.
- The BIA cannot manage its own money, or account for millions in equipment and supplies."
Stealing From Indians - Inside the Bureau of
Indian Affairs, an Expose of Corruption,
Massive Fraud and Justice Denied...
by David L. Henry
Federal employees are in a unique position to see what really goes on inside our bureaus and agencies and, in situations where ethical standards demand it, have a responsibility to point out fraud and corruption. So it was with Dave Henry, a CPA employed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), who in his internal audit reports sounded a clear alarm about huge cash shortages in the Trust Funds held for our Native Americans by the BIA, along with other similar BIA frauds.
You may have heard about that issue recently, or other disturbing news about the BIA. U.S. News & World Report magazine (11/28/94) described the BIA as "The Worst Federal Agency," bar none. At a congressional hearing (House Report - 499), the Inspector General of (Interior) described the BIA as "a multifaceted monster" and "an organizational nightmare," and further stated that "the BIA is a tinder box simply waiting for a spark."
Dave Henry is this "spark" who has for ten years been trying to get this fraud exposed to the public and he demands reform in the agency that controls so much of the lives of our Native American citizens. He was fired by BIA for speaking honest words, and went through years of fruitless appeals with an alphabet-soup of federal agencies, none of which would grant a hearing on the merits of his case. This is a common pattern for federal whistleblowers; the chance of a hearing is less than one in a thousand.
Still, his raised voice has produced some results. The Arizona Republic (a Phoenix newspaper) did a front page story on his case (11/22/87) and their investigative series inspired the U.S. Senate to conduct a two year investigation (Senate Report 101-216) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In April, 1992 Senator Daniel K. Inouye wrote Henry and said:
"It appears that your work was among the early efforts that revealed the greater problem with Indian Trust Fund Management and accounting that is now recognized to pertain to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The accuracy of your findings was later confirmed and acknowledged... Despite the laws we have enacted ... injustices still do occur and may have well occurred in your case... I do believe you have performed a valuable service ..."Henry continued his appeals through the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court, without legal help, and still his case was never heard. He wrote a book on the subject, and at a Billings Town Meeting in June, 1995 managed to hand President Clinton a copy of the book. The President said he would "look into it" and that he would "get back to" Henry, but nothing of substance resulted.
Henry wrote to many news organizations. Perhaps as a result, columnist Jack Anderson issued a story (8/02/93) describing the trust fund problem "BIA misplaces tribes money." And, the Associated Press described the " billion dollar mess" at BIA. The Billings Gazette (10/22/95) printed a two page story titled "BIA Whistleblower."
All of these reports that direct attention to a very real and serious problem requiring national attention can be traced directly to the efforts of Dave Henry, who without funds or assistance has "followed his star" for over a decade. He has shown devotion to duty, and has honored the mission he took on as a BIA employee to serve the needs of Native Americans.
Restoring him to office (in accordance with the federal whistleblower laws) is more than simple justice. It would also encourage other federal employees to report fraud and abuse when they encounter it, and it gives the message that freedom of speech is a right of all citizens.
On 12/13/96 a national radio news report (NPR) leads me [Dave Henry] to believe that a settlement in compromise may be coming from BIA, not to exceed $600 million dollars. Settlements generally require the recipient to sign a release, in this situation it would release BIA from any additional liability for the "trust care" due from collecting and holding these trust fund accounts.
[ According to a 12.12.96 Associated Press news
article the government is considering paying Indian
tribes hundreds of million dollars to avoid lawsuits over the mishandling
of tribal trust funds.
In a report to Congress, the Interior Department said it was considering
several options for settling tribal claims, including establishment of an
economic development fund that tribes could use to start new businesses.
Another option, proposed by an advisory board, calls for the government
to give $300 million directly to tribes and provide another $300 million to
establish a federal development bank for Indians.
In a report to Congress, the Interior Department said it was considering several options for settling tribal claims, including establishment of an economic development fund that tribes could use to start new businesses.
Another option, proposed by an advisory board, calls for the government to give $300 million directly to tribes and provide another $300 million to establish a federal development bank for Indians.]
This would fully cover-up and whitewash the largest fraud in the history of the United States, at the expense of our much abused and impoverished (for obvious reasons) Native American citizens. I demand that this continued stealing from Indians must stop now and forever more!
Our Constitution states that private property can not be taken without "just compensation", and it is time to apply this protection equally to all citizens, including Indians. Any lesser treatment would continue the institutional (BIA) racism that our Indian citizens have been subject to since they were first "discovered" living in this land, as free, proud, prosperous and self governing nations.
To provide a just solution, a Court of Claims must be empowered to hear the claims of Indians against BIA for:
If you agree that this injustice should be corrected and that the BIA fraud should be exposed, please sign this petition. Information provided will go directly to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Secretary of the Interior and President Clinton.