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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Deadly storm hits Crow Creek Sioux Reservation (7/3)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud youth hold suicide awareness walk (7/3)
Delphine Red Shirt: Speak the Lakota language to carry on culture (7/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules trust reform hearing (7/3)
Chumash Tribe wins dismissal of suit over status of reservation (7/3)
Four groups in Oklahoma seeking federal recognition through BIA (7/3)
Ojibwe hockey star excited for transfer to team in nation's capital (7/3)
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe wants sacred rock on national register (7/3)
Taos Pueblo man sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing (7/3)
Leader of Duwamish Tribe calls denial of recognition 'devastating' (7/3)
Editorial: Other tribes in Virginia deserve federal recognition too (7/3)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe sentenced for clash at casino (7/3)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility (7/3)
Tohono O'odham Nation faces state in court in new casino lawsuit (7/3)
Cherokee Nation to open hotel at $80M casino near Arkansas in fall (7/3)
Brian Pierson: Tribal labor sovereignty could land in Supreme Court (7/3)
Pierre Bergeron: Judges split on federal labor law at tribal casinos (7/3)
Native Sun News: Lakota riders complete journey to Little Bighorn (7/2)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home top honors at NAJA (7/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Delivering stories that matter to Indian Country (7/2)
Ivan Star: Creating a culturally appropriate economy at Pine Ridge (7/2)
Elizabeth Hawksworth: Being patriotic and being Native in Canada (7/2)
Micah A: Blood quantum does not make me any less of an Indian (7/2)
David Shorter: Learning not to speak on behalf of Native peoples (7/2)
Marc Simmons: Legend of Catholic priest saved by grateful tribe (7/2)
Sen. McCain deemed responsible for land swap at sacred Oak Flat (7/2)
A Tribe Called Red releases free remix of Buffy Sainte-Marie track (7/2)
Pamunkey Tribe wins final federal recognition decision from BIA (7/2)
Duwamish Tribe rejected for federal recognition for a third time (7/2)
BIA accused of blocking road access on New Mexico reservation (7/2)
Chippewa Cree Tribe elects Ken St. Marks as chair for fourth time (7/2)
Mississippi Choctaw leader comes out on top in unofficial results (7/2)
Bois Forte Band grows economy with second Tim Hortons Cafe (7/2)
Chickasaw Nation hails selection of permanent Indian law chair (7/2)
Editorial: Gila River Indian Community to blame for highway path (7/2)
Cow Creek Band continues to oppose new Coquille Tribe casino (7/2)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes renovate casino resort (7/2)
Four more tribes in New Mexico enter Class III gaming compact (7/2)
Editorial: Pojoaque Pueblo gets pass on illegal gaming operation (7/2)
Save Oak Flat caravan plans journey to DC to protect sacred site (7/1)
Court reluctantly backs NLRB in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe dispute (7/1)
Native Sun News: Opposition grows to delisting of grizzly bears (7/1)
Lakota Country Times: Reservation counties rank as deadliest (7/1)
Steve Russell: Professor outed as Cherokee fraud once again (7/1)
Harlan McKosato: Indian people survive despite mistreatment (7/1)
Marshall Matz: Fight for $380M in Keepseagle funds continues (7/1)
BIA acquires former military site in trust for Ho-Chunk Nation (7/1)
Appropriations bill adds $10M for tribal courts in PL280 states (7/1)
Sen. Murkowski questions definition of 'Indian' for health care (7/1)
South Dakota board won't back name change for sacred peak (7/1)
Fort Peck Tribes take on cost for homes promised by Brad Pitt (7/1)
Hoopa Valley Tribe orders water restrictions as tanks run dry (7/1)
Cherokee Nation certifies results of election for top positions (7/1)
Secretary Sally Jewell reaffirms opposition to racist mascots (7/1)
Virginia tribes hindered by racist policies created by one man (7/1)
Column: Native Code Talkers defended nation with languages (7/1)
Guilty plea for stabbing of BIA superintendent in South Dakota (7/1)
Opposition group rallies over Miccosukee Tribe land-into-trust (7/1)
Pojoaque Pueblo keeps casino open after gaming deal expires (7/1)
Court allows lawsuit for incident at Tonto Apache Tribe casino (7/1)
Navajo Nation Council approves bill to share gaming revenue (7/1)
Soboba Band celebrates 20th anniversary for gaming facility (7/1)
Mashantucket Tribe extends agreement for $1.7B casino debt (7/1)
BIA adopts new policy regarding federal recognition process (6/30)
Supreme Court agrees to resolve another Indian law dispute (6/30)
Patrick Murphy: Star Trek's William Shatner visits Navajoland (6/30)
Yvette Roubideaux: Making progress at Indian Health Service (6/30)
Native Sun News: Wambli Ska group shares culture with youth (6/30)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux leader pushes zeolite mine (6/30)
Native Sun News: BLM to update plan for land near Bear Butte (6/30)
Alex Jacobs: Fake Indians damage the real Indian community (6/30)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Even toys carry harmful messages (6/30)
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.