Excerpts of Testimony: Ross Swimmer
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The following are excerpts of a November 20, 2002, deposition of Ross Swimmer. It took place in Washington, D.C., at the offices of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). NARF attorney Keith Harper posed the questions. Sandra Spooner is a Department of Justice attorney.

HARPER: When were you contacted regarding your current -- well, first let me ask, when did you take your current position as Director of the Office of Indian Trust Transition?

SWIMMER: I don't know the exact date, but it was approximately around Thanksgiving of 2001. I think it officially perhaps was the end of November, was when I actually signed my oath of office.

. . .

HARPER: And prior to your taking the position, or assuming the position in late November 2001, did you -- when were you first contacted regarding becoming involved in trust reform?

SWIMMER: I believe it was a week or two before Thanksgiving, or it was sometime between the first and, say, 20 November of '01.

HARPER: So when you came on board, was what was called the Bureau of Indian Trust Asset Management proposal, was that already drafted?


HARPER: And had the Secretary already proposed -- can we call it BITAM for short?


. . .

HARPER: In sort of general terms, how would you say that tribal leadership responded to the BITAM proposal?

SWIMMER: Negatively.

HARPER: Would you say it was universally, unanimously negative?

SWIMMER: It was -- among the ones who commented I believe there were tribes that supported the concept, but the issue was lack of consultation rather than the product itself, in my opinion.

HARPER: And was there consultation prior to BITAM being issued?

SWIMMER: Well, it was intended that the suggestion of BITAM would generate consultation. The Secretary would put an idea on the table, and that's all it was then was a concept, and then we would consult with tribes to begin to fill in the blanks, so to speak, and build out the organization. . .

. . .

HARPER: Did the Secretary or anyone else suggest that -- let me ask you this first. The initial proposal for BITAM, who was supposed to head BITAM? Was it an Assistant Secretary position?


HARPER: And the Secretary or anyone else, did they discuss who would take that position?


HARPER: And who would take that position?

. . . [Spooner raises an objection] . . .

SPOONER: I think he can answer your question without disclosing deliberative material. I understood the question to be, who was to head the organization.



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