HR 2314 -- 09/23/98

September 23, 1998

H.R. 2314 - Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma Federal Indian
Services Restoration Act of 1997

(Watkins (R) OK)

The Administration opposes H.R. 2314 because it would provide special privileges to the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma (KTO) and its members living out of State. These privileges, which are not provided to any other Indian tribes, include: the unjustified expansion of the KTO's service area for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) service; special access to Indian Health Services (IHS) facilities; and the imposition of a requirement on the Secretary of the Interior to accept trust property to accommodate out-of-State KTO members.

For the purpose of contracting for BIA services, including programs such as law enforcement and natural resource protection, the bill would extend the Tribe's service area, to encompass out-of-State residents living in Texas, including Maverick County, Texas, which is approximately 700 miles from KTO headquarters in Oklahoma. No other Indian tribe has been accorded such Federal contracting benefits and no justification has been provided to rationalize any such divergence from established practices and policies.

Deeming KTO members living anywhere in Texas or Oklahoma to be living on or near the Oklahoma reservation could cause administrative difficulties for IHS health facilities. There is no justification for this special treatment, especially since KTO members living in Maverick County, Texas, already have access to IHS contract health services provided by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. As a result, IHS would need to apply one set of eligibility rules to KTO members and another set to all other Indians.

Finally, the bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior to accept 45 acres of land currently held in fee by the KTO in Maverick County, Texas, to be held in trust for the Tribe. This provision is contrary to existing policy, based in statute and regulation, which vests the Secretary with discretion in such acquisitions.