indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
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.