Home > News > More Headlines > Norton files Indian trust reform plans
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

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.