indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Lawmakers push for reform of Indian trust
MONDAY, JULY 28, 2003

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation on Friday that includes a number of trust reform proposals embraced by tribal leaders before negotiations with the Bush administration broke down.

Standards, greater tribal involvement in trust management and elevation of Indian affairs within the Department of Interior are some of the major components of S.1459, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act Amendments Act of 2003. The package is sponsored by Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the Senate, and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in the House.

"This legislation is a step in the right direction," said Johnson in a statement. "The federal government has work to do to live up to its treaty and trust obligations to Native Americans."

The bill is a follow-up to one that was first introduced last summer. At the time, tribes and federal officials were wary of it, citing their ongoing work on the trust reform task force.

After talks between the two parties ended, tribes took a bigger role in lobbying Congress for changes they consider essential. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Inter-Tribal Monitoring Association (ITMA) were the key players in development of the new package.

One of the major features is Congressional affirmation of standards by which trust funds and assets are managed, a provision in response to the Bush administration's stance in litigation that it has a limited set of obligations to Indian beneficiaries. The bill codifies all of the common law trust principles -- such as the duty of loyalty and the duty to maximize trust assets -- and adds Indian specific ones such as promotion of tribal self-determination and protection of treaty rights.

But in a more significant move, the bill counteracts the ongoing reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the expansion of the Office of Special Trustee (OST). Citing substantive and procedural problems with the initiatives, tribal leaders have spoken out against them.

By abolishing OST and elevating the assistant secretary for Indian affairs to a deputy secretary position, the bill responds to tribal complaints about the impact of trust reform on Indian programs. The deputy secretary would have line authority over trust matters and BIA programs -- like education, law enforcement and economic development -- instead of segregating them to competing agencies. OST would be replaced by a new Office of Trust Reform Implementation and Oversight.

Competition between OST and BIA has fueled much of the debate in Indian Country over the past year. Under the reorganization, OST emerged with the lion's share of new funds and resources, to the dismay of tribal leaders.

Another area of concern for tribes is their relationship with Interior. Since the task forced ended last September, the Bush administration has not committed to new talks, instead choosing to implement the reorganization without further tribal input.

The bill would not restart the task force, which had been one suggestion offered by tribal leaders. Instead, it creates an eight-member Congressional commission that will examine and report on trust management issues within 32 months of first meeting. At least five members of the panel must be tribally-enrolled and at least one of the five has to be an Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holder.

Other sections of the bill would protect the ongoing Cobell v. Norton lawsuit by preventing; authorize tribes to enter into agreements to manage trust funds and assets without diminishing the federal government's trust responsibilities; and require Interior to develop regulations by consulting Indian Country.

"The bill we are introducing today is not intended to either whitewash or redress past wrongs, and it will not forestall the courts from resolving matters properly before them," said Udall in a floor statement. "Instead, it is intended to take an important first step toward a better future for the Indian tribes and individuals in whose behalf the government is duty-bound to act."

Relevant Documents:
S.1459: Trust Standards | Statement: Sen. Daschle | Statement: Sen. McCain

Relevant Links:
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

Related Stories:
Congress not ready to embrace Bush accounting plans (07/16)
On trust, lawmakers take Bush officials at face value (06/25)
House bill targets Cobell trust fund lawsuit again (06/20)
Tribes focus energies on 'core' trust reform issues (05/30)
Effects of trust budget on Indian programs debated (05/28)
Swimmer: Tex Hall's testimony 'was not true' (5/23)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Daschle testimony on Indian affairs reorganization (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Reorganization: Meet the 'new' BIA (04/30)
DOI begins second transition period on Indian affairs (04/29)
Bunker mentality evident in trust reform fight (04/22)
Bush reorganization faces more obstacles (03/14)
BIA initiatives to impact Indian education (03/11)
Norton says trust forced 'tough choices' in budget (02/12)
At Interior, Indian affairs in a state of flux (02/11)
Bush budget restricts spending on Indian Country (02/10)
BIA agencies face new trust rating system (02/10)
New Bush budget aims to improve trust fund (02/04)
McCain asked to halt BIA reorganization (01/16)
Tribes debate response to trust reform plans (01/13)
Swimmer was promised BITAM job (1/16)
Tribes moving to oppose Swimmer nomination (01/06)
Unfit officials stick it to Indians again (12/09)
A super assistant secretary, in all but name (05/03)
Swimmer legacy still haunts BIA (02/12)
Reagan's Indian chief is back (11/20)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Lakota and Pueblo Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation (7/28)
Native Sun News: President of Oglala Sioux Tribe dodges bullets (7/28)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)
Charles Roessel: BIE reform plan includes teacher certification (7/28)
Troy Eid: Marijuana experiment in Colorado hurts Indian youth (7/28)
BIA hosts scoping meeting on Paiute Tribe land-into-trust bid (7/28)
Grand Ronde Tribes disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (7/28)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariage (7/28)
Unsettled: Passamaquoddy Tribe awaits constitutional reform (7/28)
Judge hears dispute over United Keetoowah Band gaming site (7/28)
Chumash Tribe plans hotel tower with $160M casino expansion (7/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe changes architects for casino plan (7/28)
Soo Tribe casino partner was developer behind failed racetrack (7/28)
Editorial: State must negotiate compact with Pojoaque Pueblo (7/28)
Native Sun News: IHS hospital at Pine Ridge undergoes review (7/25)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Group disturbs tranquility at Bear Butte (7/25)
Indian Health Service discloses privacy breach of patient data (7/25)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition regulation (7/25)
Navajo Nation president calling for FBI probe of brutal murders (7/25)
Jennie Stockle: Justice for victims of Cedarville mass shooting (7/25)
John Christian Hopkins: Waiting for Belgian waffles at Denny's (7/25)
Steven Pevar: Indian chldren are being taken from their homes (7/25)
IHS pays $53M to settle another contract support cost dispute (7/25)
Shinnecock Nation asserts control over tobacco amid pressure (7/25)
Four sentenced for stealing HHS funds from Oglala Sioux Tribe (7/25)
Unsettled: BIA questions Passamaquoddy forest management (7/25)
ASU News: First graduates of Indian studies master's program (7/25)
Blog: Tanka Fund aims to grow Indian Country's bison economy (7/25)
Opinion: A troubling relationship with Native peoples in Canada (7/25)
Opinion: Auction of tribal property in France sets bad precedent (7/25)
Puyallup Tribe cancels upcoming Ted Nugent concerts at casino (7/25)
Mayor gives conflicting view on Tohono O'odham Nation casino (7/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe plans to start work at gaming site (7/25)
Pojoaque Pueblo defends provisions in proposed gaming deal (7/25)
Iipay Nation puts Internet gaming servers on Mohawk reserve (7/25)
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
Oglala Sioux Tribe still working on plan for legal alcohol sales (7/24)
Two Native girls charged with assault for hockey game brawl (7/24)
Chickasaw Nation welcomes public to new community center (7/24)
Oregon tribe plans major development at historic village site (7/24)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
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.