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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Anderson touts benefits of Cobell trust fund case
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Dave Anderson at NCAI. Bureau of Indian Affairs head Dave Anderson (r) leads National Congress of American Indians in cheer. NCAI vice president Joe Garcia and regional representative Leslie Lohse take part. February 24, 2004. Photo © NSM.
The new head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs praised the the long-running trust fund lawsuit on Tuesday for having positive effects on his agency.

In his first appearance before the National Congress of American Indians, assistant secretary Dave Anderson attributed improvements at the BIA to the seven-year-old case. "A lot has happened because of Cobell," Anderson said.

Anderson, who hosted dozens of tribal leaders at his public swearing-in ceremony on Monday, singled out changes in the BIA's information technology system. Without the lawsuit, he said the agency would still be a "musky relic" that continues to be left behind.

"I really believe that Cobell has been a good thing for the bureau," Anderson told attendees. "That's probably the first time you've heard somebody say this publicly."

To emphasize some of the improvements, Anderson is taking tribal leaders on tours of the BIA's new IT center tomorrow. Located in suburban Washington, D.C., he said the facility's computer network, which ties all regions and agencies together, was the "most sophisticated" within the Department of Interior.

"We have actually a computer command center that looks like NASA," he beamed. "When I saw it, I said Indian Country doesn't understand what we have here. We really need people to come see where we are today compared to where we were."

In the past two years, the BIA has allocated more than $50 million for a complete overhaul of its computer system and network. Brian Burns, the deputy assistant secretary for information technology, has overseen the installation of firewalls and other protections that are meant to safeguard billions of dollars in Indian trust data.

The changes were prompted by a court report that detailed how easy it was for anyone with an Internet connection to break into the BIA. In the summer of 2001, court-appointed hackers tapped into systems housing land title, ownership and royalty information without detection. They were able to create a fake Individual Indian Money (IIM) account.

Despite being warned about the problem by their own experts, private consultants and the court, higher-ups at Interior did little to change the situation. That prompted U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to order the department to ensure that Indian trust systems were not accessible from the Internet.

Officials responded by cutting off every system, a move that left account holders, many of whom are elderly and rely on their payments for their livelihood, to go without money in the winter of 2001. It took several months for checks to be written.

Anderson said the BIA is working to get approval from Lamberth to reconnect to the Internet. In the meantime, the systems have been running off-line.

Beyond computer systems, Anderson cited other reforms in trust management. He said the probate backlog would be reduced in four years. He also pointed to the national archive of electronic trust records that is being created in Kansas with the partnership of Haskell Indian Nations University.

But not everyone in Indian Country is satisfied with the latest initiatives. Most tribal leaders oppose the ongoing reorganization at the department because it is drawing resources from the BIA while expanding the Office of Special Trustee. BIA's budget has been static while OST's has mushroomed in the past couple of years, leaving critical Indian programs at flat or decreased funding levels.

When there have been boosts in the BIA budget, it has been in information technology. With his tours, Anderson hopes to show tribal leaders that they are benefiting from that investment.

At NCAI yesterday, Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, disputed the claims of progress that Bush administration officials attribute to the reshuffling. He said the reorganization will create, not reduce, backlogs in probate, appraisal and land title. The probate backlog has doubled in the past five years alone, according to BIA statistics.

"The current reorganization plan is a waste of money and resources," Frazier said. Tribes in his region, the Great Plains, have developed an alternative that would bring resources to the local level, he said.

"The solutions are not in Washington or Albuquerque, but at home," he said.

Frazier said the thinking behind the national records archive is misplaced. In the 1990s, most tribes gave up their documents to the BIA and have not seen them despite promises to the contrary. "We need to bring our IIM records back home," Frazier said.

Keith Harper, a Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney handling the Cobell suit, agreed with Frazier's views on the reorganization. He said bureaucrats in Washington will push the changes on Indian Country unless tribes develop their own plans.

Harper also said the plaintiffs have withdrawn a contempt motion relating to the computer systems. The two sides are currently discussing mediation of the suit. "This is a small step in the right direction," he told tribal leaders.

In an interview, Harper took heart with Anderson's comments about the lawsuit, which was filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell, a banker from the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. "We welcome his involvement," he said.

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
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Cobell continues fight for accounting of billions (12/19)
Lamberth orders DOI to turn over IT reports (12/12)
DOI fares poorly on computer security report card (12/11)
Trust fund rider faces test in courtroom (11/24)
Trust reform a big issue at NCAI conference (11/21)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Norton finally responds to trust settlement (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Appeals court puts trust fund ruling on hold (11/14)
Norton using rider to seek stay of Cobell case (11/12)
Editorial: White House actions on trust 'contemptible' (11/7)
Quick fixes won't solve trust fund problems (11/5)
President Bush 'on the hook' for trust fund delays (11/5)
Norton testimony sought by plaintiffs in trust case (11/5)
Tribal company's work on trust accounting on hold (11/5)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Norton appealing Indian trust fund ruling (11/3)
Norton says White House behind trust fund rider (11/3)
House approves trust fund rider in DOI bill (10/31)
Campbell pushes action on trust fund suit (10/30)
Battle brews in House over DOI budget bill (10/30)
Cobell rallies support for trust fund case (10/28)
DOI bill halts Indian trust fund case (10/24)
Bill targets Indian trust fund suit (10/22)
House chairman supports self-governance rider (10/14)
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization (10/09)
Lamberth lays out future of Indian trust reform (09/26)
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Administration eyes consolidation of Indian appraisals (08/15)
Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises (07/24)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
On trust, lawmakers take Bush officials at face value (06/25)
Private attorneys reap benefits on Cobell case (06/24)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Bush administration turns to Congress on trust (04/04)

Copyright 2000-2004 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:
War of words escalates on mine at sacred Apache site in Arizona (7/27)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to take up land-into-trust fix (7/27)
Senate panel sets hearing on substance abuse in Indian Country (7/27)
Red Lake Nation schedules August 19 referendum on liquor sales (7/27)
Poarch Creeks win injunction blocking county from imposing tax (7/27)
Native Sun News: Indian elders suffer from higher dementia risk (7/27)
Lakota Country Times: Lawmakers hear about tribal economies (7/27)
Mark Trahant: Press the Republican candidates on Indian issues (7/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: Race remains an issue for police in Rapid City (7/27)
Cynthia Dunne: Justice has been served in Leonard Peltier case (7/27)
Carly McIntosh: Native name brings me closer to Mother Earth (7/27)
Mississippi Choctaw family seeks answers for county jail death (7/27)
Judge can't reopen Keepseagle case after $380M goes unspent (7/27)
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation won't drop federal recognition bid (7/27)
Editorial: New Jersey governor quietly obliterates three tribes (7/27)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe wins approval for liquor ordinance (7/27)
Seminole Tribe reports lack of progress in casino pact dispute (7/27)
Catawba Nation in talks to bring Hard Rock into gaming plans (7/27)
Graton Rancheria to break ground this fall on hotel at casino (7/27)
Sen. Barrasso defends quick movement on transportation bill (7/24)
Tribal gaming industry sees modest growth to $28.5B in 2014 (7/24)
House lawmakers introduce new version of land-into-trust fix (7/24)
Special Trustee Vince Logan reaching out to Indian Country (7/24)
Native Sun News: Deadwood mayor welcomes Native culture (7/24)
Lakota Country Times: Police aim to improve race relations (7/24)
James Giago Davies: Mixed-race Indians shamed over blood (7/24)
George Abeyta: Stallone Trosper taken from us in act of hate (7/24)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts citizens back to work (7/24)
EJ Montini: Money wins in war to protect sacred Apache site (7/24)
Member of Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe runs popular bakery (7/24)
Man from Tulalip Tribes pleads not guilty to new gun charges (7/24)
Opinion: It's time to take a closer look at tribal governance (7/24)
Editorial: Respect the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation (7/24)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe owes HUD for casino building (7/24)
Editorial: Colville Tribes realize dream with flagship casino (7/24)
Editorial: Pojoaque Pueblo acts in bad faith in gaming fight (7/24)
San Carlos Apache Tribe clashes with Rep. Gosar after rally (7/23)
Senate committee takes look at regulation of tribal gaming (7/23)
Lawmakers advance Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in House (7/23)
Senate panel backs victim services and transportation bills (7/23)
House subcommittee takes up Pueblo and Alaska Native bills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Rapid City mayor retaliates against paper (7/23)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala riders win top Indian relay title (7/23)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe deserves leaders with integrity (7/23)
Vince Two Eagles: Questions about 'Pezhi' in Indian Country (7/23)
Native Sun News Editorial: No honor in being called 'Redskin' (7/23)
Raul Grijalva: Congress must rebuild relationship with tribes (7/23)
Donna Ennis: It's time to take back our cultural sovereignty (7/23)
Tribal members protest handling of major trial in Rapid City (7/23)
Officials back Northern Arapaho Tribe on hate crime charges (7/23)
Quapaw Tribe holds language preservation camp for youth (7/23)
Dennis Whittlesey: Judges disagree on labor law at casinos (7/23)
Chukchansi Tribe can't remove rivals from office near casino (7/23)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe weighs options after losing poker ruling (7/23)
Non-Indian firm drops out of casino race in Massachusetts (7/23)
San Carlos Apache Tribe lands in DC to rally for sacred site (7/22)
Northern Arapaho Tribe calls shooting of men a hate crime (7/22)
Lawmakers show support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (7/22)
NIGC down to one member as leader faces Senate hearing (7/22)
Witness list for House subcommittee hearing on tribal bills (7/22)
Native Sun News: Powwow returns to South Dakota prison (7/22)
Lakota Country Times: Community gathers to discuss race (7/22)
Gyasi Ross: Native youth carry on the strength of our people (7/22)
Mike Myers: A fundamental right to develop our economies (7/22)
Trial opens into racist treatment of Indian children at game (7/22)
Navajo Nation voters ease fluency standard for candidates (7/22)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seek to reduce rate of recidivism (7/22)
Catawba Nation envisions $350M film studio on reservation (7/22)
Virginia governor seems less interested in luring NFL team (7/22)
Peruvian government to make contact with isolated tribe (7/22)
9th Circuit won't let Coeur d'Alene Tribe offer poker games (7/22)
Mohegan Tribe launches Internet gaming site in New Jersey (7/22)
Adams Lake First Nation opens doors to new gaming facility (7/22)
Editorial: Negotiate new casino compact with Seminole Tribe (7/22)
Indian youth face enormous economic and health obstacles (7/21)
Appeals court sides with Pit River Tribe in sacred site dispute (7/21)
Witness list for Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing (7/21)
Native Sun News: Rapid City police choose cultural advisor (7/21)
Lakota Country Times: Journey Museum hosts young artist (7/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska makes a big decision for Indian health (7/21)
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.