CARNEGIE — The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is now free of sanctions imposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe was notified June 30 that effective that day, the Level II sanctions it had been under since 2016 had been lifted. Leadership said the tribe and its over 12,000 membership will benefit “tremendously.”

The tribe now has access to just under $4 million dollars that had been under lockdown from 13 programs.

“This is much-welcomed news and will provide financial relief for the Tribe,” said Chairman Matthew Komalty in a statement. “We have waited a long time to work through these sanctions and we have finally seen the light of day. This is a great day for the Kiowa people.”

The chairman called the announcement an important follow up to his rebuttal of recall charges against him and the current executive branch of government by the legislative branch. In his rebuttal, he spoke of a lack of fiscal responsibility that affected the tribe for years prior to the current administration.

“Not only are we caught up with our independent annual audits, but we now can start planning strategically for the next phase of the tribe’s future growth and success,” he said. “The BIA letter opens the door to better planning of the tribe’s resources and gives us some breathing room.”

Komalty said the BIA letter vindicates the work of his team of the allegations made in the recall charges.

The tribe was put into Level II sanctions in April 2016 due to delinquent submission of the Tribe’s Single Audit report for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. The BIA ordered a stay on the tribe’s ability to draw down funds. The BIA advanced program funds on a monthly basis and withheld all contract support payments until all the delinquent audits were received for evaluation and assessment.

The tribe was later notified in December 2018 that the BIA would continue the sanctions due to the late submission of the 2016 and 2017 audit reports.

The tribe has since caught up with those audits up to 2018.

According to the letter from the BIA, the tribe’s 2019 audit would have been due on March 31 but the tribe received an extension to Sept. 30 for completion.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

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