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

Printer friendly version
Tribes debate response to trust reform plans
MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2003

A group of tribal leaders met in Washington, D.C., last week to consider their response to a set of court-ordered proposals aimed at fixing the broken Indian trust.

Although not parties to the ongoing lawsuit, tribes are increasingly interested in the case. The six-year dispute, initiated by Elouise Cobell, a banker who is the former treasurer for the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, represents more than 500,000 individual tribal members but reform efforts have greater impacts throughout the Department of Interior.

"Tribes," said John Dossett, a lawyer for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), "have in some ways been on the sidelines. For the first time, we are going to take a direct hand in this litigation."

The form of the tribal participation will be through a friend-of-the-court brief. NCAI is working with the law firm of Hobbs, Strauss, Dean & Walker, which has represented several trust cases, to draft and submit the response by the end of the month.

"An amicus brief is going to focus on the tribal point of view," said Charles Hobbs, an attorney whose work on the Mitchell Supreme Court cases paved the way for many Indian claims.

The tribes have identified several issues they will raise to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, the judge overseeing the case. They say any changes to the trust must include clear standards, respect tribal self-determination, keep funding resources intact and require consultation.

Sifting through hundreds of pages of documents the Bush administration and the Indian plaintiffs submitted on January 6, Michael Willis, one of the attorneys working on the brief, said they were "markedly different." He characterized the government's proposal as "plan to make a plan" because it lacked hard deadlines and didn't include the details tribes have sought.

"Judge, get off our backs," is the message the government is sending, Willis said.

With regard to trust standards, Hobbs said the plaintiffs' plan was "worth getting on board." "I think it does the trick with regard to what the trust standards are," he told the tribes.

But not all were convinced. George Waters, a representative of the Crow Tribe of Montana, criticized the addition of a team of experienced trust managers to oversee the system. "This is plan that reorganizes the [Bureau of Indian Affairs]," he said.

Jim Gray, chief of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, backed the plaintiffs' inclusion of tribal standards for the management of trust assets. He also responded to suggestions that tribal interests outweigh those of the individual Indians. "To say that they don't have a right to be at the table is wrong," he said of the individual account holders.

Most of the discussion occurred during a closed door session on Friday morning. Tribes grappled with a response that falls within the guidelines of a NCAI resolution that was passed last year, and when it should be submitted, according to participants in the talks.

Attorneys for the Indian plaintiffs said they welcome the submission of any amicus briefs. Keith Harper of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) acknowledged that their plan includes major changes but said it also respects tribal rights.

The government and the plaintiffs have until January 31 to respond to the plans, which Lamberth will use to enter what is known as a structural injunction. The order will require the Interior to meet its duties to the individual account holders.

By January 31, both sides must also raise issues about the scope of an accounting for the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. Lamberth expects to start a trial on moving forward the accounting on May 1.

Court-Ordered Reform Plans:
DOI: Fiduciary Obligations | DOI: Historical Accounting
Plaintiffs: Remedial Plan | Plaintiffs: Historical Accounting

Relevant Documents:
DOI Interagency procedures handbook | Other Memoranda

Reorganization Documents:
New OST-BIA | New BIA | Old BIA

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:
Additional DOI documents filed on Jan. 6 (1/10)
Treasury won't file trust reform plan (1/9)
Standards guide reform effort (1/8)
What happened to all the land? (1/8)
Congressman accuses Norton of 'stealth' moves (1/8)
Sioux chairman calls BIA talks a 'sham' (1/8)
Cobell trust reform plans filed (1/7)
Norton to fight IIM accounting (1/7)
DOI complains about consultation (1/7)
Court official demands documents (1/7)
Griles: No evidence of trust fund loss (1/7)
Swimmer picked as Indian trustee (1/6)
Norton won't account for assets (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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Violence against Native women is on the rise (10/24)
Morgan Howard: Corporate dividends confict with Tlingit values (10/24)
David Wilkins: Abandon the Doctrine of Discovery in Indian law (10/24)
Navajo Nation candidate Chris Deschene won't halt campaign (10/24)
Tribes receive $1.2M in Sovereignty in Indian Education funds (10/24)
Language preservation a top issue as AFN opens annual meet (10/24)
Rep. Don Young to speak to Alaska Natives amid controversy (10/24)
Think Progress: South Dakota county suppresses Native vote (10/24)
Opinion: Tribes turn their acumen to Internet lending industry (10/24)
Chickasaw Nation signs compact with state for license plates (10/24)
Federal judge won't be removed from Miccosukee Tribe's case (10/24)
Radio: NPS allowed destruction of tribal burial mounds in Iowa (10/24)
BIA announces intent to put Cowlitz Tribe gaming site in trust (10/24)
Feinstein opposes North Fork Rancheria off-reservation casino (10/24)
Salt River Tribe arrests man who left children in casino garage (10/24)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino could affect contributions (10/24)
Opinion: Shinnecock Nation's casino plans remain under cloud (10/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season (10/23)
Al Caroll: Recognize tribal sovereignty in new US Constitution (10/23)
Michael Baines: Senate candidate battles Alaska Native rights (10/23)
President Barack Obama urges early voting for Alaska Natives (10/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation woman named president of Girl Scouts board (10/23)
3rd Circuit won't force town to repatriate Jim Thorpe's remains (10/23)
Navajo Nation's top court orders new ballots without candidate (10/23)
Alaska Federation of Natives ready to open annual convention (10/23)
Alaska governor to sign Native languages bill six months later (10/23)
Rep. Don Young blames government 'largesse' for suicide rate (10/23)
Washington player says tattoo represents Cherokee heritage (10/23)
Crow Tribe seeks renewal of Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (10/23)
Native advocates come together to combat domestic violence (10/23)
Agua Caliente Band and DOJ submit briefs in water rights case (10/23)
Former health executive from Chippewa Cree Tribe sentenced (10/23)
Final person sentenced in theft from Blackfeet Nation program (10/23)
Opinion: Tribes exploit loopholes in America's political system (10/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe announces plans for new gaming facility (10/23)
Rival leaders of Chukchansi Tribe to meet amid casino closure (10/23)
Navajo Nation challenges lawsuit over death of casino patron (10/23)
Law Article: Judge restricts BIA authority in Class III dispute (10/23)
Column: Election won't end North Fork off-reservation casino (10/23)
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
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.