I've been aware of this for quite a number of years. Why it surfaces every now and then but quickly disappears I don't really understand. This is a huge scandal and a major stain on the federal government. It's an abuse of trust and an abuse of some of the most down trodden members of our society. It's abuse of the environment as well with drillling and grazing rights handed out by federal bureaucrats with no accountability.
As Levy points out, many tribes are afraid to object because the BIA controls many other aspects of their existence, which is another scandal in itself. If President Bush wants to promote the rule of law and property rights he could do worse than to start with the BIA and its heavy hand of socialism.
The problem, of course, is that things have gone on so long that the bill could come to tens of billions of dollars. Since the actual money has long since disappeared without a trace, fixing will require in effect a massive new spending program which is probably the major reason the big players (e.g. Cabinet Secretaries) have been obsfucating and delaying hope to pass the bill on to the next administration.
More links to posts and information from Levy.