Archive for December 13th, 2006


US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) suffers a stroke. Senate may swing back to the GOP.

The Notorious Mark T finds Denny Rehberg’s commitment to a repeal of the estate tax to be completely self-serving. I addressed this wa-a-a-ay back in June, and pointed out that he’s trying to weasel out of helping pick up the tab for a war he has eagerly supported.

Sideshow Scott to be thrown under a bus? Let’s hope so. The sooner these ideological obstructionist extremists are marginalized, the better. We got some legislatin’ to do!

Montana Jones to Singer and Sirota on Flathead Valley employment: hokum!

What’s in a headline? A lot! A tale of two print stories about Montana’s state legislature.

Is bitter partisanship naturally associated with the GOP, or are the states’ leadership groups actively co-coordinating? GOPers want to limit Democratic presence in committees in the Idaho legislature. (Julie Fanselow’s take.)

Deconstructing the “macaca” video.

Good news: Democrat Ciro Rodriguez wins the runoff against Henry Bonilla for TX 23, in a pretty convincing victory that augurs a bright future for the Democratic Party with Hispanic voters.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden proposes health-care reform bill, “Healthy Americans Act.”

Boxing ticket allegations against Reid proved invalid. I expect apologies from you Reid-bashers out there.

C&L has the video of Obama’s Monday Night Football tease.

Gholz, Press, and Valentino use a NYTimes op-ed to call for complete troop withdrawal from the Middle East.

Cheney: “Iraq is all Bush’s fault.” Ri-i-i-ght.

You think George Bush is unpopular? Dinner with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco fetched one dollar at a recent fundraiser.

Former judge and current wingnut Roy Moore thinks Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress. Get this man a Constitution!

Dave Neiwert comes up with some lessons we can learn about hate rhetoric from the Holocaust denial conference in Iran.

by Jay Stevens 

The decision to yank the proposed Bison Range stewardship heated up a little today, as we get some reactions from both sides:

James Steele Jr., council chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Tuesday that he felt “blindsided” by the National Wildlife Service’s abrupt decision to end its arrangement with the tribes to share management of the National Bison Range.”

We feel this is an orchestrated effort on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Service … to basically undermine this partnership,” said Steele. In a statement, he called the tribes “convenient scapegoats for the Fish and Wildlife Service failures.”

Federal officials claimed that the tribes’ workers on the Bison Range performed poorly and failed to complete their duties. But there’s a hint of politics in the decision

From the start, the plan to involve the tribes attracted fierce opposition, with opponents characterizing it as the tug on the first thread that would unravel the entire national wildlife refuge and national parks system.

“It is absolutely an attempt on the part of this administration, as well as the Clinton administration, to privatize and localize our public lands. If that happens, they’ll be destroyed. The Bison Range is the beginning domino,” said Susan Reneau, of Missoula, a member of the Blue Goose Alliance, a national nonprofit group that opposed the plan. Reneau pronounced herself “thrilled” Tuesday with the arrangement’s demise.

Gene Hocutt, another opponent, agreed, saying that “this is really about the miserable public land administration policies of this particular regime in Washington, D.C., and how they have not fulfilled their requirement for stewardship.” Hocutt is a retired national refuge manager who serves as spokesman for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit group of natural resources employees that has rallied opposition to the Bison Range takeover.

Got that? It’s not really the performance of tribal members that’s the issue, it’s who gets to control our national parks and wildlife areas.

Look, I’m about as paranoid about Bush administration privatization schemes for our public spaces as anybody. But handing over control of the Bison Range to the Salish Kootenai confederated tribes hardly seems to fit the profile of privatized, run-for-profit public lands. Tribal control is about giving Native Americans power over their own lands and reconnecting them to their traditional roles. It’s a win-win situation, isn’t it? You give the tribes their lands back and encourage them to become our land’s stewards, and the sense of purpose combined with a connection traditional culture should help ease the crushing loss of self-identity on reservations everywhere.

Remember, this is their land.

Am I missing something here?

Update: Mike weighs in with his own perspective, which basically says that tribal members apparently muffed their duties and should be held to the same standards as FWS employees. And history doesn’t bestow rights of ownership.

Certainly I agree that the tribes should do a good job, but FWS never published a detailed list of exactly how tribal employees failed on the job, other than a few inconsistent accusations, none of which sounded severe enough to warrant pulling the plug on the deal. (Putting bison in the wrong pasture?)

Ultimately, I’m with Readbetween, who wrote in the comments, “I’m thinking it has more to do with some very specific incidents…” I agree, and probably having to do with race-based on-site tensions, based on the little hints and clues dribbled throughout the story.


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