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Senate Committee Launches Hearings To Examine Fraud, Mismanagement in Federal Indian Programs

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Washington--Congressional hearings launched last week to examine what one Senate aide termed the "dismal situation" of American Indians will touch in coming months on matters relating to Indian education and the alleged sexual abuse of children in Indian schools.

In opening the series of hearings, Senator Dennis DeConcini, Democrat of Arizona, said a year-long investigation had found that "many of the federal Indian programs are fraught with corruption and fraud" and "most of the others are marred by mismanagement and incompetence."

The hearings, to continue into the spring, are the culmination of an inquiry by a special subcommittee of the Select Committee on Indian Affairs chaired by Mr. DeConcini.

They began with testimony alleging corruption among tribal officials and government contractors and mismanagement by federal agencies, particularly the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Some of the alleged fraud involves contractors who sold school supplies or equipment at inflated prices, or built substandard4schools, said Scott Celley, a committee spokesman.

Later this month, the panel will examine the child-abuse charges, which Mr. Celley said include cases in which the alleged abuse continued for years in federally operated schools.

"The sorry thing is that8schools under the oversight of the federal government have been the site of some of the most flagrant child abuse anywhere," he said.

The panel is to examine the state of Indian education and health as part of another set of hearings later in the spring.--jm

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