FROM THE ARCHIVE

'Shameful mishandling' of the Indian trust

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2003

"In its dollar magnitude, it's almost certainly the biggest case of financial mismanagement in U.S. history. While a final tally is years away, in part because of suspiciously lost or missing documents, there's good reason to think that the dollar figures will dwarf WorldCom's $9 billion. It's a scandal that crosses partisan lines and reaches into high levels of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. And it's got nothing to do with Wall Street.

The shameful mishandling by the federal government of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust fund--created to manage the proceeds from leases of Indian land--encompasses 300,000 accounts and 56 million acres, spans more than 100 years, and involves amounts of money estimated at between 10 and 100 billion dollars. The class-action lawsuit Indian landowners have filed against the Department of Interior--currently named Cobell v. Norton--has been going on for nearly seven years, though knowledge of trust-fund mismanagement dates back much further than that. Robert Rubin, Bruce Babbitt, and Gale Norton, along with assorted deputies, have all been held in contempt of court by Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. And yet, thanks to a combination of convoluted detail, media bias, and ideological blindness, most Americans have never even heard about it."

Get the Story:
Daily Express: Broken Trust (Jacob T. Levy. The New Republic 1/29)

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

Related Stories:
Norton set for speedy contempt appeal (1/28)
Norton given a 'C' by National Journal (1/28)
DOI not actively defending McCaleb on e-mail (1/28)
Swimmer confirmation hearing expected in Feb. (1/28)
Norton attacks 'unfit' trustee ruling (12/9)
Congratulate unfit Bush officials (12/9)
McCaleb faces continued probe (11/26)
Interior's casualties of war (11/25)
McCaleb resigning from BIA (11/22)
17 months at arm's length (11/22)
Norton fights contempt citation (11/20)
Tribal organization subpoenaed (11/20)
Lamberth upheld on contempt (11/20)
Norton appeals contempt decision (11/19)
Norton again blames Cobell (11/18)
Interior blasted for ignoring court (11/14)
McCaleb admits to e-mail 'misunderstanding' (10/23)
Interior admits to more destruction of e-mails (10/22)
Court probes Norton's trust fund report (10/11)
Court moves BIA intimidation case forward (10/04)
Judge rejects Norton's 'absurd' accounting claim (9/23)
Norton's witness on TAAMS does damage (09/23)
Bush facing heightened contempt probes (09/19)
Norton 'unfit' to manage Indian trust (9/18)
Griles nearly perjured himself (9/18)
Congress responds to contempt (9/18)
Norton found in contempt for trust fund (9/17)
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