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Oneida Nation of New York

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For a fourth consecutive year, the nation returned federal assistance funds to the government, asking that its share be redistributed to other tribes in the state. In a letter, Oneida Representative Ray Halbritter said the nation had been "successful in achieving its goals of enhancing sovereignty and financial independence" through its many diversified businesses and did not need federal Tribal Priority Allocation funds. In 1998, the Oneidas became the first tribal government to return BIA funds. Since then, they have turned down almost $4.7 million in federal assistance, including 2001's $1.2 million. BIA Director Kevin Gover said the decision was "the ultimate sovereign act. There's nothing I like better than when a tribe tells me you can take your BIA money and stick it in your ear. That is a goal that we would like to achieve with all Indian tribal governments, that they just don't need our money to provide the basic services to their communities." Halbritter said the nation has always viewed BIA funds "as seed money ... . Now that we have achieved a certain level of economic self-sufficiency, we can maintain a high level of services to our members on our own."