your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Inouye criticizes attempts to change trust relationship
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Tribes should be wary of proposals that aim to redefine the federal government's trust responsibilities, a leading Indian Country advocate said last week.

In a speech to the National Congress of American Indians, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) warned of a "very fancy deal" being advanced by the Bush administration. "When you hear it for the first time you're gonna say, 'My that's great,'" he said.

Inouye, who is stepping down as vice-chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee later this year, was referring to efforts to develop individual agreements for every tribe. He said it was natural for every sovereign tribe to think of its relationship with the federal government as unique.

"You're proud of your sovereignty," he told tribal leaders. "Why not have the U.S. government have 556 separate agreements?"

But he said the the proposal would create inequities in Indian Country. Tribes with great resources would hire lobbyists and lawyers to create the best deal for them, he said, leaving behind others that are not so fortunate.

"But they are your brothers and sisters, and they have no resources to hire these expensive lawyers to negotiate for them," Inouye said.

The World War II combat veteran and third senior-most member in the Senate also warned that the government would engage in a divide-and-conquer strategy. He said officials would "pick the weakest tribe, run all over them and make a deal with them. And that will be the standard for the rest of Indian Country."

"Now if they dealt with the most powerful and the wealthiest Indian nation and came up with one agreement that's good, then they can make that the standard for everyone else," he continued. "But you know very well it's not going to happen that way. Your people have dealt with the government of the U.S. long enough."

"Watch out for that one. It sounds good but it's got a lot of danger in that," he concluded.

The proposal has come up as Congress debates how to fix the trust system but also for the federal recognition of various tribes and Native Hawaiians. In testimony to Congress, government officials, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, have said a so-called "trust instrument" would clarify the federal government's responsibilities to a particular tribe, as well as address other issues including jurisdiction, taxation and land use.

The idea has its roots in something tribal leaders advanced during talks with federal officials in 2002. At the time, tribes sought a "restatement" of the trust responsibility in order to clarify questions that arose in two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

But the tribal proposal differed in a significant ways from what is now being advanced by the administration. Tribes based their idea on the common law of trust that has been affirmed in various court decisions, including one of the Supreme Court cases at issue. Tribes also envisioned a single standard.

In contrast, government officials say they will only look to the common law if nothing else exists. A trust instrument for each tribe, if successful, would end up supplanting the common law.

The restatement proposal was the breaking point in talks between tribes and the government. Administration officials, particularly those at the Department of Justice, rejected it because tribes sought to make all the trust duties legally enforceable.

During the Clinton administration, the Department of Interior developed a set of trust principles based on the common law. But none are encoded in law.

The extent of the government's trust duties will heat up again this year as the Bush administration turns to Congress for help in resolving the Cobell lawsuit over Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. In budget documents and in public statements, Interior officials say Congress will have to fashion a solution because a federal judge has ordered an accounting of IIM assets that they claim will cost upwards of $12 billionn.

Over the objections of the Cobell plaintiffs, tribes and a number of lawmakers, Republicans inserted a provision to delay the accounting. The "time out" will expire by the end of this year.

The plaintiffs and Interior officials are currently in talks about potential mediation of the long-running case.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -

Related Stories:
Editorial: Reform DOI, not the trust responsibility (11/26)
Tribes and Bush administration still apart on trust (11/20)
GOP votes in House beat challenges to trust fund rider (10/31)
Court opens window for Navajo Nation trust suit (10/27)
Judge advances suit over royalty mismanagement (10/03)
Osage Nation trust suit survives first test (07/31)
Court opens window for Navajo Nation trust suit (10/27)
Cobell sees positive in Supreme Court rulings (03/17)
Effects of Supreme Court decision debated (03/07)
Supreme Court upholds common law trust claim (3/5)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)
Swimmer can't recall Navajo involvement (02/13)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Lawmakers reject Trump cuts with increases for Indian programs
Sherman Alexie a role model no more as Native group pulls award
Trump administration blames tribes for delay in new DAPL study
Democrats demand consultation on FCC policy opposed by tribes
Supreme Court hears second Indian law case during a busy term
Senate Indian Affairs Committee postpones activity due to snow
1928 recording from Standing Rock added to Library of Congress
Mary Annette Pember: Rising above colonialism with spirit writing
Graham Lee Brewer: Harassment within the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Grand Traverse Band arrests non-Indian for sexual assault at casino
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hails bill to affirm status of homelands
Eastern Cherokee casino stocks new beer created by tribal citizens
Tribes cite progress since passage of Violence Against Women Act
Tribes object as Trump appointees 'streamline' interests of industry
'Acting' Trump administration officials present Indian budget plans
Chickasaw citizen Kevin Washburn named dean of Iowa law school
Angelina Arroyo: Habematolel Pomo stay strong in face of adversity
Cronkite News: Tribes hit hard by opioid crisis but support is elusive
Meskwaki Tribe announces scholarships for high school graduates
Tohono O'odham Nation reaffirms opposition to wall along border
Texas Tribune: So why do I have to go to other states to gamble?
New measure repeals old prohibition on distilleries in Indian Country
Winnebago Tribe confirms first sighting of mountain lion in decades
Fate of Keepseagle settlement funds in hands of Supreme Court
Tim Giago: Indian Country news slowly moving into the digital era
Native Sun News Today: Native Filmmakers Lab seeks new artists
Cronkite News: Cherokee football player Sam Bradford joins Arizona
A record number of Native candidates are running for office in 2018
Gun Lake Tribe seeks more trust land after victory at Supreme Court
American Indian Cultural Center and Museum names senior curator
Coeur d'Alene Tribe celebrates 25th anniversary of gaming facility
Tribal gaming executive said to be a witness in Cosby criminal trial
Pro-tribal and pro-Trump? Choctaw citizen seeks voice in Congress
Doug George-Kanentiio: Remember the victims of My Lai massacre
Native Sun News Today: Three rez teams head to basketball finals
Jenni Monet: What the movement at Standing Rock gave the world
High Country News: Harassment pervades Bureau of Indian Affairs
Mary Annette Pember: Film looks at sterilization of Indian women
Secretary Zinke criticized for offering Japanese greeting at hearing
Red Lake Nation calls for removal of oil pipelines from reservation
Pamunkey Tribe announces plans for $700 million gaming facility
Indian students demand action to prevent violence at their schools
Cronkite News: Nationwide walkout a month after deadly shooting
YES! Magazine: Students explain why they want stronger gun laws
Former San Manuel Band leader aims to make history in California
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe off to court on uranium
Mark Trahant: Ready for change? 11 Native candidates are running
Mary Annette Pember: Tribes take action to fight human trafficking
Conservative group claims victory in Indian Child Welfare Act case
Kiowa Tribe prepares to debut new casino with more in the works
Cherokee Nation set to break ground on gaming expansion project
>>> 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.