Trust records office gets new director

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The Department of Interior on Tuesday assigned a new director for the office responsible for maintaining trust records belonging to hundreds of tribes and 500,000 American Indians.

Ethel Abeita will head the Office of Trust Records (OTR). Her appointment was announced by Abe Haspel, an assistant deputy secretary who works with associate deputy secretary Jim Cason.

Abeita has worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a deputy regional director and an attorney. "Her background as a lawyer and BIA administrator has contributed to her understanding of the importance of properly managing records," Haspel wrote in a memo.

The OTR is part of the Office of the Special Trustee (OST) but is currently reporting to Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles. He took control in September after OTR employees complained about their management.

Under Abeita, the office will still report to Griles through Haspel. A proposed reorganization of the BIA and the OST shifts the office to another area within OST.

Relevant Documents:
Memo on Ethel Abeita (DOI 12/11)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
Trust Reform, NCAI -

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