indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Interior to negotiate with tribes on trust records policy
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Bush administration on Monday announced that it has dropped a proposed trust records policy amid concerns from self-determination and self-governance tribes.

After nearly two years of work, the Interior Department said it would not move forward with a single fiduciary trust records management policy. Instead, officials plan to negotiate with each tribe in order to protect and preserve all documents related to the management of Indian trust assets.

Starting in 2006, the annual funding agreements with contracting and compacting tribes will contain a new section to address trust records management, the Federal Register notice signed by Abe Haspel, the department's assistant deputy secretary, stated. Currently, the agreements contain three options for the preservation of records.

The section gives give tribes greater control and latitude for the trust records they develop, manage and maintain. The old proposal, which was outlined in a February 2, 2005, Federal Register notice, placed more of a burden on tribes to comply with the department's trust duties.

The section also includes a more specific definition of a trust record, something that tribes said was not clarified in the old proposal. "A fiduciary trust record is any document that reflects the existence of an Indian trust asset and was used in the management of an Indian trust asset," the notice states.

As part of an agreement with the self-determination and self-governance tribes, the department will still be able to inspect trust records held by tribes. But the department must pay for all costs associated with document production. The original proposal did not address costs.

The agreement further states that tribes have the option of sending "inactive" trust records to the American Indian Records Repository in Lenexa, Kansas. But no documents will be accepted until the department develops a "single tribal storage and retrieval system" at the facility. The old proposal wasn't specific on the department's requirements to create the system.

Despite making the concessions, the Bush administration said it wouldn't be providing additional funding to tribes for trust records management. "The language does not require a tribe to have any other kind of record keeping system other than the ones they currently operate," the notice states.

The department, however, said it will provide "filing equipment and technical assistance" to tribes "from available funds appropriated for this purpose."

The administration also rejected opposition from tribes that language dealing with trust records wasn't needed at all. "The department believed that the three options available to Tribes/Consortia in the past are too vague and do not specifically address the Secretary's primary concerns that fiduciary trust records not be destroyed and that the Secretary have the right to access those records if needed in her capacity as trustee delegate," the notice states.

Records management has been a long-running issue for the federal government. Despite being charged, as a trustee, to maintain all trust documents, the Interior nor Treasury departments have never been able to produce a complete historical record of the billions of dollars of revenues and royalties collected on Indian lands.

A mid-1990s effort by the former Arthur Anderson accounting firm found major gaps in the tribal trust record that totaled at least $2.4 billion. The accountants also speculated that the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust was in worse shape.

"We've been able to disclose, through the facts, horrible, horrible situations that Indian people have had to suffer" said Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit over the management of the IIM trust, said on the Native America Calling radio program yesterday.

As part of the Cobell case, the Interior and Treasury secretaries and the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs were held in contempt for failing to produce trust records for the five named plaintiffs and their ancestors. The judge had given the government more than two years to find the documents.

At the same time, the Treasury Department destroyed 162 boxes of records related to the IIM trust. The judge, however, wasn't told for several months.

Due to the government's history, some tribes have been extremely reluctant to cede control of any records to the department. At least three tribes have held onto their trust-related documents amid threats from the government's lawyers.

Officials, however, say they have made significant progress in recent years. "Changes underway are greatly improving services for trust account holders throughout Indian Country," Special Trustee Ross Swimmer said in a recent statement. "Interior employees, with substantial help from tribal leaders and Congress, have worked hard to create and now implement a comprehensive blueprint for Indian Trust reform."

Relevant Documents:
Federal Register: August 29, 2005 [Contains New Agreement] | Federal Register: February 2, 2005 [Contains Proposed Policy]

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

Related Stories:
Cobell to update account holders on lawsuit (8/24)
Editorial: Fix trust fund, don't target Lamberth (8/18)
Norton wants Lamberth taken off Cobell case (8/16)
Cobell Letter: Ross Swimmer can't tell the truth (08/08)
Resolution of Cobell v. Norton appears far away (08/05)
Editorial: McCain and Dorgan should fix trust bill (08/04)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Indian Country, Interior far apart on trust bill (08/01)
Editorial: Settlement of trust fund case at hand (08/01)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (07/29)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
Hearing weighed for McCaleb's e-mail destruction (05/11)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tim Giago to discuss book on boarding school (4/28)
Steven Newcomb: Church celebrates agent of Native genocide (4/28)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe prepares for Cobell buy-back offers (4/28)
Workshop on tribal marijuana to be held in Wisconsin on June 4 (4/28)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe maintains strong stance on marijuana (4/28)
Miccosukee Tribe renews disputed land-into-trust application (4/28)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe takes proactive approach in diabetes fight (4/28)
Interview with Maya Goodblanket about cultural appropration (4/28)
Tulalip Tribes lose litigation over additional Class III machines (4/28)
President Obama invites Native youth to White House on July 9 (4/27)
Native Sun News: Author brings Lakota heritage to stewardship (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Cobell scholarship fund being put to use (4/27)
Gabe Galanda: Even Hollywood is taking on tribal disenrollment (4/27)
Steve Russell: Same-sex marriage back before Supreme Court (4/27)
Terese Mailhot: The epidemic of early death on the reservation (4/27)
Jean-Luc Pierite: School makes bad choice with fake headdress (4/27)
Peter d'Errico: Pope fails to address genocide of Native peoples (4/27)
Choctaw Nation citizens slam Vanilla Ice's shaky ancestry claim (4/27)
Youth of Hoopa Valley Tribe speak out against marijuana grows (4/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe might be interested in growing hemp (4/27)
Sparring continues in Wind River Reservation jurisdictional feud (4/27)
Oneida Nation faces questions over land-into-trust acquisitions (4/27)
Opinion: Deadline approaches in Alaska land-into-trust dispute (4/27)
Editorial: States need help dealing with newly recognized tribes (4/27)
Last defendant to be sentenced for Choctaw Nation casino fraud (4/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on labor measure (4/27)
Senate panel takes up bill to halt Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/27)
Tiny Alturas Rancheria runs casino but can't agree on much else (4/27)
Dennis Whittlesey: Texas tribes are pawns in much larger game (4/27)
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.