Great Plains Region
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Programs in the Great Plains Regional Office
Great Plains Regional Office
Timothy L. LaPointe, Regional Director
The Great Plains Regional Director is responsible for the direction and oversight of Bureau responsibilities and activities as they pertain to the mission and goals of the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This includes the protection of trust assets through effective natural resources management and strengthening tribal governments while enhancing economic development and protecting and preserving tribal sovereignty to enhancing the quality of life standards throughout the communities we serve. The Great Plains Region is under the direction of the Regional Director, who reports to the Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, through the Deputy Bureau Director, Field Operations. The Office of the Regional Director provides program direction and supervision to 12 Agencies encompassing 16 federally recognized Tribes.
Vacant, Deputy Regional Director - Trust Services
Programs in the Great Plains Regional Office
Tribal Government, Enrollment & Claims:
Provides Technical Assistance to Tribes in the Great Plains Region in the following areas:
Provides Pub. L 93-638 Contracting to the Great Plains Region in support of the responsibility of the U. S. Department of Interior to protect and manage the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage and honor its trust responsibilities to American Indians. Self- Determination Responsibilities:
- Contracting with the Tribes for services provided by Bureau of Indian Affairs through Public Law 93-638.
- Contracting with the Tribes for construction projects provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs through Public Law 93-638 and the FAR.
- Oversight of the audits submitted by the Tribes. Provide Technical Assistance to the Tribes in the Great Plains Region.
12 Agencies – Self-Determination 638 contract
- Nebraska –Winnebago, North Dakota -Fort Berthold, Fort Totten, Standing Rock, Turtle Mountain, South Dakota- Cheyenne, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Yankton, Sisseton
16 Tribes – Self-Determination 638 contracts
- Nebraska-Omaha, Santee Sioux, Ponca, Winnebago
- North Dakota- Three Affiliated, Spirit Lake, Standing Rock, Turtle Mountain
- South Dakota -Cheyenne, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Yankton, Sisseton, Flandreau
15 Tribal Organizations-
- Trenton Indian Service Area, United Sioux Tribes, United Tribes Technical College, Northern Plains Appellate Court, Fort Berthold Community College, Sinte Gleska University, Ponca Economic Development Corporation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Community College, Sitting Bull College, Turtle Mountain Community College, Crow Creek Housing Authority, Sioux City Indian Education Committee, Intertribal Bison Cooperative and Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.
638 Audits and Onsite Reviews
- Audits are required each year for 16 tribes/15 tribal organizations
- Findings and Questioned costs are resolved by the tribe/tribal organization and Self-Determination Representative.
- Onsite reviews are to be accomplished each year
Housing Improvement Program:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs housing policy is that every American family should have the opportunity for a decent home and suitable living environment. The Housing Improvement Program will serve the Neediest of the Needy Indian families who have no other resource for standard housing.
The Housing Improvement Program is a home repair, renovation, and replacement program administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and federally recognized Indian tribes. For American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families who have no other immediate, or in the near future, resource for housing assistance. HIP was established under the Snyder Act of 1921 as one of several BIA programs authorized by Congress for the benefit of Indian people.
To be eligible for HIP assistance you must be a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native Village; live in an approved tribal service area; have an annual income that does not exceed 125% of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Poverty Guidelines; your present housing is substandard, as defined by regulations; have no other resource for housing assistance; have not received assistance after October 1, 1986 for repairs and renovation, replacement or housing, or down payment assistance; and have not acquired your present housing through a federally sponsored housing program that includes such services and assistance.
You must obtain, complete and submit an application, BIA Form 6407, with the nearest servicing housing office. Assistance will be provided throughout the application process.
Loan Guaranty and Interest Subsidy Program:
Borrower Eligibility: The borrower must be: an Indian individual; an Indian-owned business entity, with a structure acceptable to BIA; a tribal enterprise; or a Tribe.
Great Plains Success Stories
Ho Chunk Inc., Winnebago, Nebraska Created > 500 jobs within the community Dakota Decreased unemployment to 3%Number of Jobs Created/Sustained
Muddy Creek Oil & Gas Pine Ridge, South
Created > 75 jobs
Land Titles and Records Office:
The Division of Land Titles and Records is charged with the Federal responsibility to provide accurate, timely and cost effective federal land title Service to Indian individuals and Tribes/Compact Bands. The LTRO provides a VITAL federal land title maintenance service for Indian individuals, Tribes and Bands. The LTRO truly is an “office of historical trust records” for the Great Plains and Midwest Regions. The Great Plains Regional Land Titles & Records Office serves Tribes in the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.
There are 135,780 Individual Indian Landowners holding over 1,360,000 interests in various tracts within the Great Plains and Midwest Regions. There are approximately 497,700 title records on file in the LTRO that date back to 1887. Most are on microfilm; 102,000 are probate documents. Currently, the annual record count stands at 16,000–17,000 per year.
- Authority for existence: Act of July 26, 1892
- Federal Regulation: 25 CFR Part 150
- The Aberdeen LTRO is the oldest and has been in operation since 1960
- Coverage area includes 50 reservations/public domain areas across 7 states (130 counties)
- 7.0+ million acres of Indian allotted/tribal trust land
- A geographical title plant.
- 1.3+ million current landowner interests in Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS)
- 68,000 Indian allotments/tribal tracts
- LTRO provides direct services to 15 BIA Agency offices & 4 compact/contract bands (Midwest).
- There are 30+ different types of documents the LTRO records/processes/files.
Six Major LTRO Functions:
- Record land title documents that convey and/or encumber Indian trust land.
- Provide certified Title Status Reports that show legal description, current ownership & encumbrance/liens.
- Maintain the Bureau’s official automated land ownership database known as TAAMS Title.
- Prepare probate modifications for Indian probates.
- Prepare and/or maintain land owner status maps and plats.
- Certify land title documents.
Probate and Estate Services:
The Division of Probate and Estate Services works to conserve the trust estate of a deceased individual Indian, to assist the Office of Hearings and Appeals with the probate of their trust assets, to pay claims, and to timely distribute the trust estate to the determined heirs/beneficiaries.
As an integral part of the trust management team, the Probate program has an inherent and legal trust and fiduciary obligation and responsibility to protect the trust and/or restricted lands, trust assets, resources, and treaty rights of Indian trust landowners and the Tribes it serves. It also has the obligatory responsibility to carry out the mandates of Federal Law with respect to American Indians and federally-recognized Tribes and is supportive and committed to Indian self-determination. The Probate Program also provides support to ensure accurate payments to beneficiaries and correct records for trust ownership. The Probate Program is actively engaged in the implementation of the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004. The Probate Program is responsible for preparation of probate cases for submission to the Office of Hearings & Appeals for determination of legal heirs or devisees and subsequent distribution of the estate.
The Probate program has a commitment to support the mission, goals, objectives, and initiatives of the United States Federal Government. It also holds itself to a high level of integrity and standards in performing and carrying out its duties and functions in order to provide quality services to its beneficiaries, the Indian trust landowners, and Tribes, as well as to other Federal Government entities it assists and serves. The Probate program is the hub of all real estate services to Indian trust landowners and Tribes, since heirship of trust and/or restricted land and subsequent transactions begin with Probates.
Real Estate Services:
The Division of Real Estate Services provides technical assistance to 16 Tribes, conducts program reviews, provides support to 12 Agencies on appeals to Interior Board of Indian Appeals, review legal documents associated to all Realty activities, provide responses to landowners, mineral owners, and congressional inquiries, provide technical review on all realty related activities, which include Acquisition and Disposal (land transactions between individuals and Tribes), Fee to Trust Acquisitions (application by Tribes and individuals to acquire fee land to trust status for administration by BIA); Tenure and Management (leases for agricultural, farm-pasture, recreational, commercial, private home sites, HUD home sites, industrial, business and other long or short term leases); Rights of Ways (grants of easements for BIA, State, or private roads, water lines, sewer lines, electrical, telephone, underground fiber optic cable for telephone lines, oil and gas pipelines, facilities); Oil and Gas (leases, unit agreements, communitization agreements, Indian Mineral Development Act of 1982, access roads to oil and gas well locations, reclamation of abandoned oil and gas well locations, compliance inspections, and seismic exploration permits); Applications for Patent in Fees (applications for non-Indians inherited trust property or applicants applying for fee status); Cadastral Survey; and TAAMS leasing.
REGIONAL LEASING DEMOGRAPHICS:
- 2.9 MILLION TRIBAL ACRES
- 3.0 MILLION ALLOTTED ACRES
- TOTAL 5.9 MILLION TRUST ACRES
- 177,364 ENROLLED TRIBAL MEMBERS
- $10,800,000.00 GRAZING REVENUES
- $12,000,000.00 FARM PASTURE REVENUES
Indian Land Consolidation Program:
The Indian Land Consolidation Act Amendments of 2000 made Indian Land Consolidation Program a pilot program. The 2004 amendments made the Program permanent. The Amendments authorized the Secretary of the Interior to acquire from willing sellers, and at fair market value, any fractional interest in trust or restricted land, to: Prevent further fractionation; Consolidate fractional interests and ownership into usable parcels in the name of the Tribe/Band; in a manner that enhances tribal sovereignty; promote tribal self-sufficiency and self-determination; and to reverse the effects of the allotment policy on Indian Tribes.
Where economical, purchase all the interests belonging to owners with interests in highly fractionated tracts in a limited set of locations.
Regional Statistics – Great Plains:
- 87% of landowner interests are 2% or less
- 98% of landowners own only in this region
- Over 73,759 landowner interests purchased through December, 2005
- Expended $12M in FY 2005
Division of Natural Resources:
The Division provides services related to planning, coordinating, and evaluating programs in the field of natural resource management and provides assistance to protect and enhance the value of the Indian agronomic, environmental, and natural resources. Emphasis is placed on maximizing income while maintaining and/or improving the Indian resources on trust lands and managing the Indian natural resources through technical assistance to BIA agency offices, tribes, individual Indian landowners, and operators of trust properties.
Division personnel provide technical assistance on a broad spectrum of natural resource issues including: dam safety, range management, wildland fire management, geographical information system (GIS) mapping and tribal trust land information, water resources, and fish, wildlife and recreation issues.
This Division also provides to field agencies and tribes, technical assistance, and oversight of Public Law 93-638 contracts. This assistance and oversight is in support of the BIA goal for promoting Indian self-determination.
Natural Resource Management
There are 6 million acres of trust land with more than 1200 permitted range units and 8000 farm/pasture leases in the Great Plains Region. The Division of Natural Resources provides technical assistance to BIA Agencies and Great Plains Tribes in the development of:
Integrated Resource Management Plans (IRMP)
Integrated Resource Management Plans covering all land and natural resource uses within the Reservation have been promoted by BIA
Agricultural Resource Management Plans (ARMP)
ARMP covering all agricultural resource uses within the Reservation is required to be developed in accordance with an IRMP for agricultural land pursuant to the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act of 1993.
Conservation plans for each permit/lease
A Conservation Plan to protect the trust land used for agricultural purposes must be developed in accordance with the ARMP for each permits/leases in the Region.
Agriculture and Rangeland Management
- Rangeland Management
- Range management and operation
- Range leasing and permitting
- Noxious weed control
- Biocontrol projects throughout region
- Initiation of a bio-control distribution center in Great Plains Region
- Noxious weed control coordination and study
- Forestry Management Plans
Noxious Weed Control
- Timber sales analysis and preparation
- Forestry Management Plans
Wildland Fire Management
Conduct about 45 Prescribed burns annually for 10,000 acres
Wildland fire response and All Risk response
Fire Prevention –
Fire training provided through Region and Nation.
Water Resource Management
Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation
Human Services handles 6 components of Financial Assistance, which consist of:
1. General Assistance
a) An applicant must meet the criteria contained in 25 CFR 20.300 (Who qualifies for Direct Assistance)
b) Apply concurrently for financial assistance from other state, tribal, county, local, or other federal agency programs for which he/she is eligible;
c) Not receive any comparable public assistance, and
d) Develop and sign an employment strategy in the ISP with the assistance of the social service worker to meet the goal of employment through specific action steps including job readiness and job search activities.
2. Burial Assistance
a) In the absence of other resources, can be provided to eligible Native American;
b) A relative of deceased can apply;
c) Applications must be made within 30 days of death;
d) Eligibility will be based on income & resources available to the deceased (VA, etc.) and
e) Needs will be determined using the bureau payment standard.
3. Disaster Assistance
a) Disaster Assistance Program will continue to remain unfunded due to shortages in Welfare Assistance Funds.
4. Emergency Assistance
a) An emergency is a situation where a home or personal possessions are destroyed or damaged through forces beyond their control.
b) Maximum emergency assistance payment standard of $1,000 per household.
5. Adult Care Assistance
a) Not eligible for other state, federal, or tribal programs;
b) Eligibility based upon income & resources;
c) Service agreement is in licensed or certified providers; and
d) Requires non-medical personal care and supervision due to advanced age, or physical condition, and cannot be cared for by family members.
6. Child Assistance
a) The child must meet the requirements in 25 CFR; and
b) The child’s legally responsible parent, custodian,/guardian, or Tribal court having jurisdiction must:
1. Request assistance in writing;
2. State that they are unable to provide guidance for the child; and
3. Provide the documented social service assessment.
Financial assistance can be provided when not provided by state, tribal, county, or other federal agencies. Financial assistance is subject to annual Congressional appropriations.
An applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be a member of an Indian tribe;
- Not have sufficient resources to meet the essential needs defined by the Bureau;
- Reside in the service area as defined by the Bureau; and
- Meet the additional eligibility criteria for each of the specific programs of financial assistance.
Resources Considered when Determining Need:
- All income, earned or unearned, must be calculated in the month it is received and as a resource thereafter, except income obtained from the sale of property that may be exempt as provided in 25 CFR, 20.309.
- Resources are considered to be available when they are converted to cash.
Indian Reservation Roads Program:
The Indian Reservation Roads Program mission is to provide safe and adequate transportation and public road access to and within Indian reservations in the Great Plains Region, Indian lands and communities for Native Americans, visitors, recreationists, resource uses and others while contributing to economic development, self-determination, and employment of Native Americans.
The IRR is part of the Federal-Aid Highway Program and is funded from the Highway Trust Fund. It is Authorized under the Federal Lands Highway Program, 23 United States Code (USC) 204. Use of IRR Program funds is defined in 23 USC. This program is jointly administered by the BIA and the Federal Highway Administration. We prepare the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that is a 5- year plan for improvements on each reservation. Each project on our TIP is supported by tribal resolution. We submit our TIP to the BIA Division of Transportation (BIADOT) for review and approval. BIADOT reviews, approves, and forwards our TIP to FHWA Federal Lands Highway Office (FLHO) for approval. Once the TIP is approved by the FHWA, we then have projects that costs can be charged to. All projects have to be on the approved TIP. All of our projects are supported by tribal resolution.
We contract all of our construction to Tribes under PL 93-638.
A tribe may now use up to 25% of its share of IRR Program funds for road maintenance. Road sealing not subject to limitation. BIA retains primary responsibility. Funds supplement the DOI BIA road maintenance program funds. Eligibility criteria per Subpart G of 25 CFR 170.
We address proposed roads needed for future housing, health care facilities, education facilities and economic development. Proposed roads have to be included in each Tribe’s long range transportation plan. We are available to assist Tribes in the Great Plains Region in updating their IRR inventory.
Division of Environment, Safety and Cultural Resources Management:
The Division of Environmental, Safety and Cultural Resources mission is to document or investigate conditions affecting the integrity and security of the landscape, human health and safety, and cultural resources, taking necessary, prudent or emergency measures to understand, protect and sometimes improve these assets of the United States, American Indians and Indian Tribes. This Division was formed under the reorganization in 2004.
1. Reduce liability at federal facilities:
- Perform Environmental Site Assessments prior to fee-to-trust conversions.
- Exercise due care in identification of liabilities at or near 1500 BIA buildings and facilities in 76 locations.
- Track and report Environmental and Disposal Liabilities.
- Remove approximately 250 inactive aboveground and underground fuel tanks.
- Remove and replace approximately 200 active Underground Storage Tanks.
- Characterize and dispose of unused hazardous materials.
- Support BIA defense in Blue Legs litigation.
2. Achieve/maintain environmental compliance:
- Provide technical and regulatory support to: Transportation, Realty, Facilities Management and Construction (OFMC), Law enforcement (Office of Justice Services), Education (OIEP), Natural Resources, and Housing.
- National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Identify Federal actions requiring NEPA compliance and Consolidate and standardize NEPA activities in the Great Plains Region. Produce Environmental Assessments (EA), Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), and Review NEPA documents prepared by other Federal Agencies. Current Issues Include: wind energy, cell towers, oil and gas, Indian gaming.
3. Support environmental progress on trust land.
- Perform Safety inspections on 1,500 BIA buildings at 76 locations
- Process tort claims, worker’s compensation claims, motor vehicle accident reports, personal injury reports.
- Provide analysis of driving records for 1564 employees to comply with DOI and BIA Motor Vehicle Operation Policy.
National Historic Preservation Act
- Provide 100 consultations and inventories per year
- Identify cultural, historic, and traditional cultural properties
- Determination of potential adverse effects
- Negotiation of programmatic agreements and MOAs
- Heritage property assessments – 345 buildings
Archeological Resources Protection Act
- Land management agency
- Management of permits for evaluation studies by others
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
- Management of BIA collections
- Negotiation of agreements