GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council is proposing to return management of its juvenile detention center to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which the tribe says is underfunding the facility.
"That means it will be their responsibility," said Rodney Gervais, a tribal councilman.
"And they'll have to pay a lot more for it," added Councilman Edwin Little Plume.
Pending before the business council is a resolution to dissolve a contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the tribe to provide juvenile detention services at the White Buffalo Center.
"The Blackfeet Tribe has determined that due to the tribe's continuing financial crisis and the BIA's minimal funding … it is now in the best interest of the tribe to retrocede said contract immediately," the resolution states.
Tribal Councilman Ronald Kittson said the BIA pays about $250,000 a year to run the White Buffalo Center, but that the overall annual budget is about $950,000.
"They're very adamant that they have no money because it all goes to the war in Iraq," he said. "When we ask them how we're supposed to run the White Buffalo Center, they tell us they'll take our juveniles out of there and house them in other facilities."
The BIA superintendent at Browning, Steve Pollock, was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Tribal Treasurer Joe Gervais said he has suggested that the tribe drop the contract with the BIA for the past seven years, ever since the U.S. Supreme Court voided a type of tribal property tax that was generating about $1.4 million a year.