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
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
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:
Native Sun News: First Nations Sculpture Garden breaks ground (8/28)
Native Sun News: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe misses Cobell deadline (8/28)
James Giago Davies: There's trouble brewing on the racist horizon (8/28)
Simon Moya-Smith: A Republican slur on our indigenous relatives (8/28)
Kyle Mays: Connections between Creole and Native communities (8/28)
Mike Myers: Tribes deserve our own seats on international level (8/28)
Opinion: Supreme Court should pass on Jim Thorpe NAGPRA case (8/28)
Navajo Nation to reopen irrigation canal after Gold King mine spill (8/28)
Native executive wasn't surprised by 'No Natives please' rental ad (8/28)
Tribal members in Minnesota assert treaty right to gather wild rice (8/28)
County hopes to revive foreclosure lawsuit against Cayuga Nation (8/28)
Washington Supreme Court affirms legality of tribal gas compacts (8/28)
County sheriff questions authority of tribal officers in New Mexico (8/28)
Nooksack Tribe concerned about impact of slowly melting glaciers (8/28)
Supreme Court Justice Thomas favors conservative leaning briefs (8/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe prepares for decision on gaming plan (8/28)
San Manuel Band hires executive director for gaming commission (8/28)
Kumeyaay Nation still waiting to repatriate ancestors despite win (8/27)
IHS plans to expand service area for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (8/27)
Native Sun News: Health workers join together for race relations (8/27)
Ivan Star: Oglala Sioux government fails majority of our people (8/27)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump isn't the only crazy one in the race (8/27)
Harlan McKosato: Isleta Pueblo opposes city development plan (8/27)
Julianne Jennings: People of color must unite for justice or else (8/27)
Hillary Clinton campaign reaches out to tribal voters in Nevada (8/27)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Southern Ute Tribe hosts top DOJ officials at crime conference (8/27)
Paper must ask to attend Eastern Cherokee council meetings (8/27)
Koi Nation praises charges against man accused of looting site (8/27)
Pokagon Band breaks ground on village with housing complex (8/27)
Tribes provide fire services on and off reservations in California (8/27)
Chumash Tribe signs new Class III casino compact in California (8/27)
Tohono O'odham Nation heading back in court in casino lawsuit (8/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community announces $100M casino expansion (8/27)
Lower Sioux Indian Community debuts $22M casino expansion (8/27)
Little Traverse Bay Bands plan new development at old casino (8/27)
Seminole Tribe wins major ruling in taxation dispute in Florida (8/26)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Indian Health Service to hold a second meeting for LGBT issues (8/26)
Obama picks for National Advisory Council on Indian Education (8/26)
Native Sun News: Lakota grandmother debuts film about uranium (8/26)
Native Sun News: Miss Crow Fair thanks family for strong support (8/26)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Beware of vicious and deadly gossip on rez (8/26)
Former Navajo Nation leaders blamed for lack of women's shelter (8/26)
Man charged with murder of Crow Tribe couple could face death (8/26)
Former executives charged with theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (8/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe asks Obama to drop appeal in eagle case (8/26)
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.