Federal, tribal officials to testify at hearing on Indian Country, transportation


by Vince Devlin

POLSON – The assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs and the president of the National Congress of American Indians will be among the witnesses testifying at a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee here Friday.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a member of the committee, called the hearing to gather information on transportation issues in Indian Country.

The hearing is Friday at 2 p.m. at the Best Western KwaTaqNuk Resort.

Larry J. Echo Hawk, an assistant secretary of Interior, and Jefferson Keel, head of the National Congress of American Indians, will be among the first panelists.

The second panel will include E.T. "Bud" Moran, chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; James Steele Jr., chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council; Timothy W. Rosette Sr., who works for the Environmental Health Division of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation; and John P. Smith, transportation director of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of Wyoming.

Also testifying in Polson will be John R. Baxter, associate federal highways administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He'll be accompanied by Robert Sparrow Jr., reservation roads program manager for the Federal Highways Administration.

Accompanying Echo Hawk are Michael S. Black, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Leroy Gishi, the BIA's transportation chief.

The Senate hearing is open to the public.