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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., met recently with Keith Beartusk, Director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to learn more about issues facing the Wind River Reservation such as economic development, housing opportunities and problems with certain probate laws on Tribal trust land.

"I appreciate the opportunity to learn about the BIA at the regional and local levels," said Enzi. "We serve the same constituencies, the members of the Wind River tribes, and I think its critical we work with each other and the tribes to address their concerns."

Enzi and Scott Ratliff, Enzi's advisor to Native American issues in Wyoming, requested the meeting with Beartusk after visiting with members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes about the Bureau's activities and other reservation concerns.

Enzi said funding formulas that address the distribution of funds to regional tribes were an important part of the meeting.

"The regional office has a big task. It has to figure out how to fairly and equitably distribute funds to nine tribes, two of which are located in an entirely different state and share one reservation. As a result of the meeting we will be looking closer at ways to improve certain distribution models in order to ensure fair treatment for our Wyoming tribes."

Enzi, who has been active in securing funds for home loans on the Wind River Reservation, spoke with BIA officials at length about their housing programs and the availability of financing for Native American housing. He also expressed particular interest in the availability of rights of way for telecommunications services and problems associated with probate laws, which passed last year but have yet to be enacted.

"I have serious concerns about the Indian probate laws, and it is critical for Congress to work with the tribes and the BIA in resolving these issues," said Enzi. "I encourage the tribes to continue communicating with me and the BIA as we move forward."

The BIA is the lead federal agency charged with carrying out the United States' relationship with Indian tribal governments. The BIA Regional Offices perform important duties as the day-to-day liaison between tribal members and governments and the federal agency. The Rocky Mountain Regional Office is responsible for administering federal programs and working with tribal governments from the two Wyoming tribes and seven Montana tribes.