FROM THE ARCHIVE

DOI denies involvement in House bill

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FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2002

The Department of Interior has denied involvement in a House bill that restricts action on the Indian trust fund even though the legislation contains provisions requested by Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill that limits an historical accounting to more than 500,000 American Indians to the period 1985 to 2000. The legislation also pays for attorneys fees for government officials, cuts off money to court investigators and fires the Special Trustee's advisory board.

Griles -- during a March appearance before the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee -- asked lawmakers for help in limiting the Interior's duties to Indian Country, going so far as to suggest the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust could be terminated. He also asked for help with nearly 50 government officials wanted in contempt and said that litigation in a federal court was hampering trust reform.

A copy of the bill the IIM plaintiffs released yesterday shows that lawmakers adopted Griles suggestions and went further by firing the advisory board -- composed of prominent Indian Country leaders including Sue Masten, chairwoman of the Yurok Tribe of California; Gregg Bourland, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota; Ivan Makil, chairman of the Gila River Tribe of Arizona; Alaska Native leader Ed Thomas; and IIM lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, former treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana.

Get the Story:
Indians Would Get Less Info With Bill (AP 7/11)

Relevant Documents:
House Committee Report: Department of the Interior Fiscal Year 2003 Budget

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
Norton's accounting funds limited (6/28)
Griles can't explain trust standards (6/27)
Bush administration bets on accounting (3/18)
Interior considering a limited trust fund (3/15)