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
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Bush seeks dramatic changes to Cobell settlement
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Bush administration is proposing sweeping changes to the Cobell settlement bill that would phase out the federal government's trust management responsibilities and force consolidation of Indian lands.

Within 10 years, the Interior Department would no longer manage the 54 million acres held in trust for individual Indians and tribes. The goal is to turn the system into a "beneficiary-managed" trust for which the United States cannot be held liable for any damage claims.

To facilitate the major shift, the administration wants to consolidate the Indian land base through voluntary and involuntary mechanisms. Highly fractionated parcels would be whittled down to just 10 owners in the next 10 years.

And the administration is asking Congress to resolve all tribal trust claims in addition to the Cobell suit over the Individual Indian Money trust. Takings claims, land claims and environmental claims would not be affected.

These proposals were contained in a briefing paper released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Monday. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman, and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the vice chairman, have not approved the changes.

But the leaders are asking Indian Country for their comments on the ideas, which mark the first time in over a year that the Bush administration has responded to the Cobell settlement bill.

"To gain support for a multi-billion dollar bill, it may be necessary to incorporate significant changes to the management system for Indian trust assets. As proposed, these changes would not remove the trust status of Indian lands, but would reallocate significant decision-making authority and legal responsibility from the federal government to the Indian tribes and individuals," the briefing paper states.

The document, also called "New Issues for S.1439," did not attribute the proposals to any particular party. But the Cobell plaintiffs tied them to the administration, whose officials have raised similar ideas in the past about the Indian trust system.

Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary at Interior, has advocated for the resolution of all tribal and individual Indian trust claims. David Bernhardt, the recently-confirmed solicitor, has lobbied Congress to limit the liability of the United States.

Cason's testimony to the committee on July 26, 2005, also outlined each of the proposals now up for debate as Congressional staff hold meetings across the country to get input on the bill.

The first meeting took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, yesterday. The last will be held November 9 at the Senate Russell Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Other meetings have been scheduled in Cabazon, California (October 24); Rapid City, South Dakota (October 25); Albuquerque, New Mexico (October 31); and Bismarck, North Dakota (November 2).

Congress returns to work on November 13 after the elections. Lawmakers will dedicate most of their time to passing the appropriations bills that keep the government operating.

The outlook prompted one Democratic staffers on the committee to label chances for the bill's passage as "dire." But a Republican staffer was more optimistic when both spoke at the National Congress of American Indians annual conference earlier this month.

Either way, McCain and Dorgan have tied the delay to the Bush administration. "I think it's incomprehensible that the administration would not be able to come up with at least a response with what is a product of years of effort on the part of this committee and the interested parties," McCain said in September.

Dorgan said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been cooperative. "It's the White House and the Office of Management and Budget that have not given us a number," Dorgan said via video at NCAI.

The Cobell case was filed in June 1996. The federal courts have affirmed the duty of the federal government to account for billions of dollars that have passed through the system.

More than two dozen tribes subsequently filed lawsuits for accounting, mismanagement and related claims. But some cases -- notably the Navajo Nation's $1.8 billion claim -- have been pending in court for years longer than Cobell or the more recent tribal suits.

Briefing Paper:
NEWLY PROPOSED PROVISIONS FOR SENATE BILL 1439 THE INDIAN TRUST REFORM ACT (SCIA 10/23)

Press Release:
ADDITIONAL CONSULTATION MEETINGS TO BE HELD ON S.1439 (SCIA 10/19)

Relevant Documents:
Staff Draft of Cobell Settlement Bill (Posted by ITMA)

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Statement:
INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE POSTPONES CONSIDERATION OF TRUST REFORM LEGISLATION (August 2, 2006)

Indian Trust Reform Act:
S.1439 | H.R.4322

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Deadly storm hits Crow Creek Sioux Reservation (7/3)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud youth hold suicide awareness walk (7/3)
Delphine Red Shirt: Speak the Lakota language to carry on culture (7/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules trust reform hearing (7/3)
Chumash Tribe wins dismissal of suit over status of reservation (7/3)
Four groups in Oklahoma seeking federal recognition through BIA (7/3)
Little Shell Chippewa Tribe welcomes federal recognition reforms (7/3)
Leader of Duwamish Tribe calls denial of recognition 'devastating' (7/3)
Editorial: Other tribes in Virginia deserve federal recognition too (7/3)
Ojibwe hockey star excited for transfer to team in nation's capital (7/3)
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe wants sacred rock on national register (7/3)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe won't give up on wind energy despite delays (7/3)
Catawba Nation fought against British during Revolutionary War (7/3)
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho revives powwow after 15-year absence (7/3)
Taos Pueblo man sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing (7/3)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe sentenced for clash at casino (7/3)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility (7/3)
Tohono O'odham Nation faces state in court in new casino lawsuit (7/3)
Cherokee Nation to open hotel at $80M casino near Arkansas in fall (7/3)
Brian Pierson: Tribal labor sovereignty could land in Supreme Court (7/3)
Pierre Bergeron: Judges split on federal labor law at tribal casinos (7/3)
Native Sun News: Lakota riders complete journey to Little Bighorn (7/2)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home top honors at NAJA (7/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Delivering stories that matter to Indian Country (7/2)
Ivan Star: Creating a culturally appropriate economy at Pine Ridge (7/2)
Elizabeth Hawksworth: Being patriotic and being Native in Canada (7/2)
Micah A: Blood quantum does not make me any less of an Indian (7/2)
David Shorter: Learning not to speak on behalf of Native peoples (7/2)
Marc Simmons: Legend of Catholic priest saved by grateful tribe (7/2)
Sen. McCain deemed responsible for land swap at sacred Oak Flat (7/2)
A Tribe Called Red releases free remix of Buffy Sainte-Marie track (7/2)
Pamunkey Tribe wins final federal recognition decision from BIA (7/2)
Duwamish Tribe rejected for federal recognition for a third time (7/2)
BIA accused of blocking road access on New Mexico reservation (7/2)
Chippewa Cree Tribe elects Ken St. Marks as chair for fourth time (7/2)
Mississippi Choctaw leader comes out on top in unofficial results (7/2)
Bois Forte Band grows economy with second Tim Hortons Cafe (7/2)
Chickasaw Nation hails selection of permanent Indian law chair (7/2)
Editorial: Gila River Indian Community to blame for highway path (7/2)
Cow Creek Band continues to oppose new Coquille Tribe casino (7/2)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes renovate casino resort (7/2)
Four more tribes in New Mexico enter Class III gaming compact (7/2)
Editorial: Pojoaque Pueblo gets pass on illegal gaming operation (7/2)
Save Oak Flat caravan plans journey to DC to protect sacred site (7/1)
Court reluctantly backs NLRB in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe dispute (7/1)
Native Sun News: Opposition grows to delisting of grizzly bears (7/1)
Lakota Country Times: Reservation counties rank as deadliest (7/1)
Steve Russell: Professor outed as Cherokee fraud once again (7/1)
Harlan McKosato: Indian people survive despite mistreatment (7/1)
Marshall Matz: Fight for $380M in Keepseagle funds continues (7/1)
BIA acquires former military site in trust for Ho-Chunk Nation (7/1)
Appropriations bill adds $10M for tribal courts in PL280 states (7/1)
Sen. Murkowski questions definition of 'Indian' for health care (7/1)
South Dakota board won't back name change for sacred peak (7/1)
Fort Peck Tribes take on cost for homes promised by Brad Pitt (7/1)
Hoopa Valley Tribe orders water restrictions as tanks run dry (7/1)
Cherokee Nation certifies results of election for top positions (7/1)
Secretary Sally Jewell reaffirms opposition to racist mascots (7/1)
Virginia tribes hindered by racist policies created by one man (7/1)
Column: Native Code Talkers defended nation with languages (7/1)
Guilty plea for stabbing of BIA superintendent in South Dakota (7/1)
Opposition group rallies over Miccosukee Tribe land-into-trust (7/1)
Pojoaque Pueblo keeps casino open after gaming deal expires (7/1)
Court allows lawsuit for incident at Tonto Apache Tribe casino (7/1)
Navajo Nation Council approves bill to share gaming revenue (7/1)
Soboba Band celebrates 20th anniversary for gaming facility (7/1)
Mashantucket Tribe extends agreement for $1.7B casino debt (7/1)
BIA adopts new policy regarding federal recognition process (6/30)
Supreme Court agrees to resolve another Indian law dispute (6/30)
Patrick Murphy: Star Trek's William Shatner visits Navajoland (6/30)
Yvette Roubideaux: Making progress at Indian Health Service (6/30)
Native Sun News: Wambli Ska group shares culture with youth (6/30)
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.