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

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...
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:
Apology offered to girls who were forced to change Navajo hairstyle (2/5)
Mark Trahant: Bernie Sanders campaign starts Indian policy group (2/5)
Charles Trimble: Taking responsibility for upkeep of our cemeteries (2/5)
Mary Annette Pember: Memorial to Indian genocide eyed in Russia (2/5)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I guess I'm just one of those 'crazy' Indians (2/5)
Judge weighs compromise for $380M in leftover Keepseagle funds (2/5)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes movement on water rights settlement (2/5)
Yakama Nation wins decision on cost of cleaning up contamination (2/5)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe confident of casino bid despite lawsuit (2/5)
Arizona sees 6.9 percent boost in gaming contributions from tribes (2/5)
Cowlitz Tribe close to reaching agreement with city for new casino (2/5)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation questions exclusion from casino process (2/5)
Tribal leaders question management changes at IHS in Great Plains (2/4)
IHS chief medical officer apologizes for comments about newborns (2/4)
Group sues IHS for records about water pollution on Yakama Nation (2/4)
Sen. McCain still bothered by failure to block Arizona tribe's casino (2/4)
Gun Lake Tribe announces retirement of longtime chair DK Sprague (2/4)
House Natural Resources Committee passes Indian bills at markup (2/4)
Samuel Winder: Indian defendants face harsher criminal penalties (2/4)
Charles Kader: Tribal burial grounds in Florida are being desecrated (2/4)
Roger Chelsey: Pamunkey Tribe clears last hurdle for federal status (2/4)
Reno Sparks Indian Colony mourns passing of leader William Coffey (2/4)
Native students convince school to name Indigenous People's Day (2/4)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe supports move to Indigenous People's Day (2/4)
Coquille Tribe donates $100K to help college with health programs (2/4)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes help inmates reintegrate (2/4)
Little River Band hails BIA movement on off-reservation casino bid (2/4)
Lac Vieux Desert Band reopens hotel after disease scare at casino (2/4)
Eastern Cherokee council revives plan for bowling alley at casino (2/4)
Mark Trahant: Self-determination should be on table for campaign (2/3)
Bernie Sanders won Democratic precinct on Meskwaki Reservation (2/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes two water bills at meeting (2/3)
House committee approves Lytton Band bill with casino limitation (2/3)
Wounded Warriors Family Support reaches out to tribal veterans (2/3)
James Giago Davies: Only one candidate can help Indian Country (2/3)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation creates opportunity with casino (2/3)
Laura Waterman Wittstock: Horrors at facility for 'insane' Indians (2/3)
Tim Evans: Menominee Nation loses contract support costs case (2/3)
Indian Health Service makes changes ahead of big SCIA hearing (2/3)
Native man from Canada charged over death of eagle in Nevada (2/3)
Choctaw Nation plans work on $219M headquarters next month (2/3)
Federal judge dismisses Freedmen historical accounting lawsuit (2/3)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians see turnaround at golf course (2/3)
4th Circuit won't recognize tribal authority in online lending case (2/3)
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.