Home > News > More Headlines > Swimmer affirms right to trust fund accounting
Printer friendly version
Swimmer affirms right to trust fund accounting
FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2003

The federal government has always had a duty to account for the Indian trust fund, the Department of Interior official in charge of reforming the system said on Thursday.

But under several hours of cross-examination, special trustee Ross Swimmer refused to concede that the Bush administration's plans to conduct an historical accounting was inadequate. Although the Individual Indian Money (IIM) dates to 1887, Swimmer said it was appropriate to limit the project to those accounts open as of 1994, the date of the law that created his office.

"I can't cite you specific statutes," Swimmer testified, when asked to explain why the plan imposes the restriction. "Beyond that, every trustee has a duty to account. That's innate within the trust."

Swimmer, a former assistant secretary and principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has periodically provided accounting statements to tribes and individual Indians. But without "reasonable assurance" that the information was accurate, he said it was his job, as head of the Office of Special Trustee (OST), to make sure the government was fulfilling its responsibilities.

"I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those statements," the witness said, while adding: "I am not certain that they were all accurate."

During questioning by Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney Keith Harper, Swimmer waded into controversial territory when he discussed a 1990s project, led by Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that has since gone out of business after being convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents, that looked at the tribal trust.

Although the effort only went as far back as 1972 and the General Accounting Office (GAO) has concluded a full reconciliation is "impossible," Swimmer suggested that it was both fair and accurate for the time period covered. He said some tribes may have signed documents accepting it as such.

"It would appear for those tribes that were reviewed, that it did provide that kind of [historical] accounting," he said.

Swimmer then promised he would review Arthur Andersen's work. "As soon as possible," he testified, "I have a lot of work to do."

Swimmer, confirmed to his post this past April, returns to the stand this morning to resume his testimony. Harper expects questioning to last until early next week. Topics to be discussed include the application of Indian preference at the Interior, tribal consultation and other reform issues.

Once Swimmer is off the stand, the plaintiffs plan to call three of four rebuttal witnesses, including an aide to the late former U.S. Congressman Mike Synar, the Democrat from Oklahoma whose "Misplaced Trust" report highlighted some of the controversy during Swimmer's Reagan-era tenure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They expect the trial, which started May 1, to conclude by July 8.

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
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

Related Stories:
Swimmer challenged on Bush reform plans (6/27)
Swimmer expected to take stand in Cobell trial (6/25)
Griles gets Cobell wish list from House (6/26)
Taxpayers fund private attorneys to tune of $3M (6/25)
Swimmer testimony to come at end of Cobell trial (06/05)
Cason to take stand in Indian trust fund trial (6/4)
Indian trust standards debated (6/3)
Suit aims to halt reorganization (6/3)
Norton starts defense in trust fund trial (6/2)
Tribes stress unity on trust reform solutions (6/2)
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/29)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Trial in Cobell trust fund case kicks off (05/02)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Cobell v. Norton Recap: Day 1 of Trial 1.5 (05/02)
Court tackles trust accounting and reform plans (05/01)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Tribes rest easy as Supreme Court wraps up a surprising session (6/24)
Tribes in northern California take action to protect salmon runs (6/24)
Aaron Payment re-elected as chairman of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe (6/24)
Gun Lake Tribe hosts annual Sweet Grass Moon Powwow in July (6/24)
Native Sun News: First Native hockey referee 'Butchy' passes on (6/24)
Delphine Red Shirt: Lakota people denied voting rights on our land (6/24)
Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar (6/24)
Terese Mailhot: Becoming a better ally after the Orlando shooting (6/24)
April Youpee-Roll: Elizabeth Warren owes more to Indian Country (6/24)
Another land-into-trust fix reportedly being drafted in the Senate (6/24)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (6/24)
Non-Indian charged for trespassing at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico (6/24)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (6/24)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe breaks ground on $34M expansion at casino (6/24)
Non-Indian gaming firm loses challenge to law for new tribal casino (6/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes to finish demolition work at site of old racetrack (6/24)
Supreme Court deadlocks in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (6/23)
Matthew Fletcher: 'Huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system (6/23)
Native American Basketball Invitational draws top talent to Arizona (6/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe almost done with long-awaited theater (6/23)
Susanville Rancheria thanks lawmakers for help with land-into-trust (6/23)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on three bills (6/23)
Supreme Court backs affirmative action policy in long-running case (6/23)
Native Sun News: Senate committee takes on Indian Health Service (6/23)
Mark Trahant: A Republican plan to terminate Indian Health Service (6/23)
James Giago Davies: Welfare for corporations but nothing for tribes (6/23)
Peter d'Errico: Justice Clarence Thomas critiques federal Indian law (6/23)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
White House defends fracking regulation imposed on Indian lands (6/23)
Mescalero Apache woman hosts fundraiser for Miss United States (6/23)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to collect sales tax on entire reservation (6/23)
Seneca-Cayuga Nation ordered to conduct another council election (6/23)
Poarch Creek land-into-trust bill could help casino effort in Florida (6/23)
Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas (6/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation told to turn over casino-related documents (6/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee debates marijuana & sovereignty (6/22)
Major trust reform bill supported by Indian Country signed into law (6/22)
President Obama signs land-into-trust bill for Susanville Rancheria (6/22)
Chairman Jim Boyd from Colville Tribes passes away at age of 60 (6/22)
Tribes take more control of their land with HEARTH Act regulations (6/22)
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community adds another 128 acres (6/22)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge Reservation graduates celebrate (6/22)
Native Sun News: Year of Reconciliation sees another anniversary (6/22)
Former Fond du Lac Band chairman Peter Defoe passes on at 77 (6/22)
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.