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
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
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Measure reaffirms Navajo Nation policy against legal marijuana (3/5)
Some youth removed at center on Yerington Paiute Reservation (3/5)
Laguna Pueblo supports Class III casino compact in New Mexico (3/5)
Seminole Tribe seeks approval for 537-room casino hotel tower (3/5)
Narragansett Tribe loses decision in non-Indian gaming dispute (3/5)
Editorial: Mohegan Tribe hits milestone with gaming enterprise (3/5)
Native News News: Ojibwe flautist shares message with music (3/4)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up IRRIGATE Act (3/4)
9th Circuit to consider Medicine Lake sacred site dispute again (3/4)
Winona LaDuke: Ingrid Washinawatok's vision remains strong (3/4)
Tim Ballew: Northwest Indian College builds on tribal traditions (3/4)
Steven Newcomb: Domination doctrine and the Quinault Nation (3/4)
Stanley Heller: Help eliminate an Indian mascot in Connecticut (3/4)
Editorial: Mascot reflects history of violence and discrimination (3/4)
Column: Work with tribes in Washington on marijuana industry (3/4)
Navajo Nation files human rights petition to protect sacred site (3/4)
Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL measure (3/4)
Yakama Nation woman fights tribe for custody of 12-year-old (3/4)
Chumash Tribe cheers introduction of land-into-trust measure (3/4)
Leader of Chippewa Cree Tribe ousted from office for 3rd time (3/4)
Yurok Tribe planning to debut new justice facility in the spring (3/4)
UTTC president named to panel to choose new UND nickname (3/4)
Another lawsuit filed over former federal judge's racist emails (3/4)
Cowlitz Tribe still waiting for BIA to place gaming site in trust (3/4)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe hails decision in gaming dispute (3/4)
Mohegan Tribe remains interested in new casino near border (3/4)
Mashantucket Tribe joins gaming proposal in Massachusetts (3/4)
Opinion: Florida gaming expansion bill leads to less gaming (3/4)
Native Sun News: Mine proposed near Black Hills sacred site (3/3)
Native youth send video message to Obama on Keystone XL (3/3)
Lummi Nation leader moves ahead with tribal cannabis group (3/3)
BIA to award another $8M in Tribal Climate Resilience grants (3/3)
DOI to host listening session on buy-back program in Arizona (3/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on IRRIGATE Act (3/3)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation improves notification system (3/3)
Patty Talahongva: Native youth become Champions for Change (3/3)
Mary Pember: Bad River Band wins as massive mine put on hold (3/3)
Albert Bender: A travesty of justice in attack on Indian children (3/3)
Vince Two Eagles: Native Americans are citizens in our nations (3/3)
Column: Navajo Nation takes basketball obsession to new level (3/3)
Dozens of Native languages down to limited number of speakers (3/3)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe seeks information about drug overdose (3/3)
Man from Omaha Tribe sentenced as habitual domestic offender (3/3)
Man from Oglala Sioux Tribe charged for abusing infant daughter (3/3)
Village sues DOI over Oneida Nation land-into-trust documents (3/3)
Editorial: Navajo Nation set to choose new president on April 21 (3/3)
Yerington Paiute Tribe reports another incident at youth facility (3/3)
Mohegan Tribe names one of its own to head gaming enterprise (3/3)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe and state in court over casino plan (3/3)
Muscogee Nation set for big job far as part of casino expansion (3/3)
Seminole Tribe touts compact as lawmakers take up expansion (3/3)
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.