indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Indian Country takes on trust relationship debate
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2003

For much of last year, Neal McCaleb had a mantra. There is a conflict between the federal trust responsibility and tribal self-determination, he often told tribal leaders.

That, of course, was before battles in both areas prompted his retirement as assistant secretary last December. But the issue remains on the minds of many in Indian Country, especially in the wake of two Supreme Court rulings that tribal leaders worry will have an impact on their relationship with the United States.

Hoping to get a better handle on the debate, a group of experts will meet this week with just one major item on the agenda. "There certainly is a tension between the concept of self-determination and trust responsibility," said Tracy Labin, a Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney and one of the organizers of the conference, sponsored by the Indian law section of the Federal Bar Association.

The Supreme Court on March 4 issued two decisions on the federal government's trust duties. The outcome was a mixed bag, observers noted, because the Navajo Nation lost its case while the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona won by one vote.

It was the Navajo decision that contrasted the government's trust obligations with greater tribal rights. Citing a federal law that puts tribes in control of their own mineral resources, the justices in a 6-3 decision struck down the tribe's $600 million breach of trust claim.

The ruling has prompted the tribe to reconsider numerous business deals, which require approval by the government, and a Navajo official last month called the court's pronouncement a "new philosophy" that could affect economic development and the quality of life on the reservation.

Robert Brauchli, the attorney who won the Apache case, said the Navajo experience teaches Indian Country a lesson. "I would say that tribes have to be very careful before entering into any agreement with the Department of the Interior," he said. "Tribes should make sure that all the duties are spelled out to the extent they take over management of trust assets."

Keith Harper, another NARF attorney, is handling a lawsuit that affects individual Indians whose resources are controlled entirely by the government. He said the Navajo decision won't have an impact on the case but challenged the notion that it should free federal officials of responsibility.

"I don't agree that there is this tension that they point out," he said of the court's ruling. "Self-determination allows for [greater tribal control] but it doesn't allow for a trustee to undermine and keep information from the beneficiary that is critical to make an informed decision."

The Bush administration has been largely mute on the cases for which is sought review. Theresa Rosier, a Bureau of Indian Affairs aide, said at a Senate hearing last month that the Navajo ruling confirmed the existence of a "limited trust responsibility," an interpretation some dispute.

What many agree on, though, is the need for legislation to clarify the government's obligations. Efforts to do that fell apart last year due to objections by the Bush administration. With Indian Country holding the potential for energy and other developments, tribal leaders say standards, oversight and reform are critical.

"In future trust asset deals, we are really going to have make sure that we are at the table and that we're making sure that the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are accepting that responsibility," said Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota.

The conference, "Tribal Self-Determination and the Federal Trust Responsibility: Collaboration or Conflict?" takes place Thursday and Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

More Information:
28th Annual Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference

Relevant Links:
Federal Bar Association - http://www.fedbar.org
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

Related Stories:
'Nuisance' IIM accounts targeted (4/4)
'Hand-to-hand combat' with BIA (4/2)
Tribes weigh effects of energy legislation on trust (03/20)
Navajo Nation tussles with new trust 'philosophy' (03/20)
Supreme Court panel's predictions mostly came true (03/19)
Cobell says trust claim bolstered (3/17)
Navajo Nation fallout considered (3/7)
Supreme Court upholds common law trust claim (3/5)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)
U.S. pressed on trust duties (12/3)
Supreme Court takes on trust (12/2)
Review disputes 'costly' Indian trust litigation (10/21)
U.S. argues limits as trustee (8/9)
Griles slammed for ignorance (7/12)
Griles can't explain trust standards (6/27)
Court to decide limits of trust duty (4/23)
Supreme Court taking on trust (4/22)
Leave no Apache school behind (3/29)
Apache Tribe wins trust case appeal (5/17)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Wrapup from National Congress of American Indians DC meeting (2/27)
Native Sun News: Rapid City leader calls for tax on alcohol sales (2/27)
Mark Trahant: Beautiful trend emerges with power of Native vote (2/27)
Ivan Star: Lakota traditional history tells the true untold stories (2/27)
Audio: House Appropriations Committee hearing on BIA budget (2/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on irrigation bill (2/27)
National Indian Gaming Commission choice gets another hearing (2/27)
Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language advocate passes on at age 58 (2/27)
Gyasi Ross: Yawna Allen shares her Native and African ancestry (2/27)
Frank Hopper: Alaska Native Brotherhood was about resistance (2/27)
Stanley Heller: Don't forget the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado (2/27)
Cherokee Nation chief faces at least four challengers in election (2/27)
BIA and DOJ seek to mediate Cayuga Nation leadership dispute (2/27)
Non-Indians guilty for hunting incidents on Montana reservation (2/27)
Man from Te-Moak Tribe pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter (2/27)
Administrator for Alaska tribe cuts her position out of the budget (2/27)
Opinion: Find common ground on Indian mascots in Connecticut (2/27)
Hannahville Indian Community starts $8M casino expansion work (2/27)
Wilton Rancheria still waiting for BIA movement on casino project (2/27)
Lytton Band paid $4.6M to use land as parking for Class II facility (2/27)
Opinion: Menominee Nation might turn to tokers instead of poker (2/27)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks come with slot machines and marijuana (2/27)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meet in DC (2/26)
Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe leader sidelined by council (2/26)
James Giago Davies: Native activism must embrace all relations (2/26)
Donna Ennis: Obama budget supports tribal self-determination (2/26)
Rich Winter: Let's keep Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City (2/26)
Oglala Sioux Tribe wants Lakota Nation Invitational out of Rapid (2/26)
Former Sisseton Wahpeton chairman joins marijuana company (2/26)
Hoopa Valley Tribe places marijuana referendum on April ballot (2/26)
Blog: Firm saves billions by exploiting Native 'loophole' at FCC (2/26)
Klamath Tribes aid investigation into stolen artifacts in Oregon (2/26)
Alaska Native community still waiting on funding for relocation (2/26)
Alaska Native lawmaker in hospital after emergency at capitol (2/26)
Elise Patkotak: Alaska must acknowledge high rate of violence (2/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe waits for decision in recognition lawsuit (2/26)
Muscogee Nation seeks 5000 workers for big casino expansion (2/26)
Little River Band expects wait for $180M off-reservation casino (2/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe plans to open casino food court in May (2/26)
Cherokee Nation promotes citizen to manager of $80M casino (2/26)
Tribes share nearly $16M in casino revenues with New Mexico (2/26)
Connecticut tribes face threat from casinos in Massachusetts (2/26)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meeting (2/25)
Native Sun News: Artist Del Iron Cloud wins top award at show (2/25)
Witness List: Senate Indian Affairs Committee budget hearing (2/25)
Steve Russell: Cherokees learned discrimination from colonists (2/25)
Mary Pember: Tlingit masks appraised on 'Antiques Roadshow' (2/25)
Julianne Jennings: Keep talking about race in American history (2/25)
Bill to create day to honor late Elouise Cobell stalls in Montana (2/25)
Washington tribes head to trial in dispute over fishing grounds (2/25)
Mobile dental clinic takes service to Navajo Nation communities (2/25)
Shingle Springs Band gun range draws questions from neighbors (2/25)
NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe continues land claim negotiations (2/25)
Opinion: Oklahoma attempts to rewrite role of Whites in history (2/25)
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.