indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Norton files Indian trust reform plans
TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2003

The Bush administration on Monday unleashed more than 200 pages of what it said was part of an "ongoing" push to improve the management of the broken Indian trust.

Calling it the product of "detailed" work involving tribes, government officials and paid consultants, the government outlined a two-pronged effort. Through reorganization and reengineering, the Department of Interior wants to change the way more than $3 billion in funds and 54 million acres of land are handled.

"Interior is carrying out a comprehensive and systematic plan to reform management of its trust responsibilities," the plan, filed in federal court close to midnight, stated.

Largely the work of Ross Swimmer, a former Reagan administration official whose earlier attempt to change the system led to outrage among Congressional and tribal leaders, the "Fiduciary Obligations Compliance Plan" was drafted as part of a class action representing more than 500,000 American Indians whose trust assets have been in disarray for more than a century. Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, filed the suit in 1996 to force change.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who has overseen the debacle since then, has been openly critical of the lack of progress the Clinton and Bush administrations have made. In September 2002, he held Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and Neal McCaleb, the Indian affairs aide who said he quit because of the litigation, in contempt of court for lying about stalled initiatives.

The plan seeks to contain that fury yet is notable for its lack of detailed timelines. The department promises to complete several tasks in the next two years but cautions that its efforts must be evaluated in light of a restructuring of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Special Trustee (OST), the two agencies most responsible for trust functions, and a multi-milion study being undertaken by Electronic Data Systems (EDS), a management consulting firm.

In contrast, a proposal drafted by the Indian plaintiffs contained concrete deadlines for the government to fulfill its fiduciary obligations. Dennis Gingold, the lead attorney for the beneficiaries, said he followed Lamberth's September directive and drafted a "structural injunction" that will pave the way for "meaningful" change.

"A near-term deadline for defendants to provide what they have for so long promised in the way of trust reform is imperative," the filing, completed late last night, stated. Over the next few months, the plaintiffs call on the Interior to meet several tasks in anticipation of further court action by Lamberth.

Time wasn't the only difference between the two sides of the dispute. The plaintiffs identified eight trust obligations owed to Indian beneficiaries, including a duty of loyalty and impartiality.

In contrast, the department stated only two: to account for trust funds on an historical and current basis. According to the government, these duties were derived from a 1994 act that called for sweeping changes in the administration and management of Indian assets.

Per Lamberth's direction, the Bush administration and the plaintiffs have 30 days to respond to the plans. Tribal leaders, through the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), are meeting this week in Washington, D.C., to read the proposals in advance of submitting their own later this month.

In addition to the fiduciary obligations plan, the Interior filed a plan to conduct an historical accounting of the plaintiffs' trust fund accounts. It was notable for a complete shift in direction than what was promised to Indian Country in two earlier reports.

Lamberth expects to hold a trial this spring to address issues in advance of completing the accounting.

Relevant Documents:
DOI: Fiduciary Obligations Compliance Plan | Plaintiffs: Remedial Plan | Plaintiffs: Reform Order

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
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
Norton won't account for assets (1/6)
Swimmer picked as Indian trustee (1/6)
McCaleb learned about trust 'on the job' (12/23)
Lamberth slams claimed accounting (12/23)
Edwards: Slonaker changed mind on accounts (12/23)
McCaleb challenges trust accounting claims (12/19)
Deadline approaches on plans (12/19)
Tribes opposing BIA proposal (12/18)
'This is not son of BITAM' (12/17)
Tribes debate future of talks (12/17)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
Paskenta Band holds election aimed at resolving council dispute (9/15)
Tribes in Oklahoma raise their minimum wage above federal level (9/15)
Blog: Taos Pueblo exerts sovereignty over health care programs (9/15)
Travel: Remote parks on Navajo Nation are an 'extraordinary find' (9/15)
Petitions submitted to put Tohono O'odham Nation casino to vote (9/15)
Dry Creek Rancheria struggling to see gaming revenues recover (9/15)
Poarch Creeks still open to Class III gaming compact discussion (9/15)
Editorial: Cherokee Nation brings jobs with project next to casino (9/15)
Native Sun News: Olympic medalist visits Pine Ridge Reservation (9/12)
Bryan Brewer: Bill for Native language immersion a high priority (9/12)
Sen. Tester applauds approval of final Cobell settlement payout (9/12)
Kenneth Deer: UN meeting an opportunity for indigenous peoples (9/12)
Judge won't issue injunction in Pojoaque Pueblo compact dispute (9/12)
Ex-manager for Shingle Springs Band's casino told to pay $2.4M (9/12)
Briefs filed in lawsuit over United Keetoowah Band's gaming site (9/12)
Quapaw Tribe expands agricultural program at casino restaurant (9/12)
Judge approves motion to distribute Cobell settlement payment (9/11)
Native Sun News: Final Cobell payment might 'almost' be ready (9/11)
Mark Trahant: Affordable Care Act is worthy of debate in election (9/11)
Gyasi Ross: Support Quechan skate park and self-determination (9/11)
Disaster declared after Moapa Paiute Reservation hit by flooding (9/11)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (9/11)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate a target over fluency issue (9/11)
Northern Arapaho Tribe withdraws from joint Wind River council (9/11)
Editorial: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe trying to make budget work (9/11)
University of Utah creates scholarships for students of Ute Tribe (9/11)
Nez Perce Tribe seeks update to historic trail from 1877 journey (9/11)
Miccosukee Tribe seeks removal of judge in dispute with lawyers (9/11)
Jessica Carro: Native people treated like foreigners in Argentina (9/11)
Peru investigates murders of four prominent indigenous leaders (9/11)
SCIA sets hearing on bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/11)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe and state in compact arbitration (9/11)
Choctaw Nation reduces height of casino hotel amid FAA concern (9/11)
Seminole Tribe wins ruling over state taxation at gaming facilities (9/11)
Maine tribes hopeful for casino as lawmakers examine new study (9/11)
Editorial: Mohegan Tribe's gaming plan is right for Massachusetts (9/11)
Native Sun News: Tribes worried about Black Hills uranium mines (9/10)
Native Sun News: DOJ report highlights activity in Indian Country (9/10)
Mark Trahant: Native voters bring element of surprise in election (9/10)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on irrigation (9/10)
Audio: House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs (9/10)
9th Circuit to broadcast arguments in Big Lagoon casino dispute (9/10)
Ruben Balderas: Tohono O'odham Nation casino breaks promise (9/10)
Jay Daniels: Return per cap if you oppose resource development (9/10)
Opinion: Decision signals shift on state taxation in Indian Country (9/10)
Julianne Jennings: Fear of witches and Indians in Massachusetts (9/10)
Cobell buy-back program includes base offer of $75 for interests (9/10)
Chippewa Cree Tribe only receives 4.5 percent of loan revenues (9/10)
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.