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Media Articles - 1990s

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Tribes Put Chilocco Into Bureau's Hands BIA to Manage Former School

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
June 7, 1995

NEWKIRK - An intertribal group has turned over management of a former Indian school and surrounding land to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Four of the five tribes of the Chilocco Development Authority have passed resolutions to end the organization. The group manages the former Chilocco Indian School seven miles north of Newkirk.

Julia Langan, superintendent of the BIA's Pawnee agency, said in a letter to tribal officials that the authority will be dissolved when it turns over records and signs over the lease with its single tenant.

L.W. "Bill" Collier, area BIA director in Anadarko, said no date has been set for the transfer of management.

"With the Chilocco Development Authority disintegrating, then the Bureau (of Indian Affairs) would reassume and take over all those other responsibilities," Collier said.

The Chilocco Development Authority formed in 1986 to find a new use for the old Chilocco Indian School and to give the tribes a chance to earn money.

The Pawnee, Otoe-Missouria, Ponca, Kaw and Tonkawa tribes each was represented on the authority.

The plan was for the tribes to share revenue by leasing the buildings and surrounding land.

Narconon Chilocco New Life Center entered a 25-year lease with the Chilocco Development Authority six years ago. Gary Smith, Narconon Chilocco president, said his substance abuse facility will work with the BIA during the transition. He said he expects the BIA to honor the terms of his organization's lease.

"It doesn't affect Narconon's lease arrangement with the tribes. We just have a different landlord," he said.

Word of the authority's dissolution slowly reached tribal members, some of whom said they were unaware of their tribal leaders' actions to terminate the authority. Many were not in favor of the BIA taking over.

"At a time of ... a major national push for tribal self-governance being initiated by Congress, the termination of the CDA is taking a 10-year step back in time from the progress that has been made towards the Indian tribes' right to self govern," said Tony Arkeketa, a Ponca tribal member.

Joanee Roberts, a Pawnee tribal member, said: "Our tribal leaders have been misled by the BIA and a few members of past tribal administrations.

"Our present leaders have made this lethal mistake that will negatively impact thousands of tribal members of the five tribes."