FROM THE ARCHIVE
Transcript: Norton on Washington Journal
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THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2002

The following are excerpts of of Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's appearance on the C-SPAN program "Washington Journal." The comments below represent her responses to questions on the Indian trust fund. Wednesday, March 13, 2002.

The lawsuit that was filed on Indian trust funds was filed in 1996 and is basically looking at the entire history of the management of those trust funds since 1887, when lands were originally set aside for individual Indians. Basically what the department does is lease lands for grazing or for timber or oil and gas and income from that goes to the individual Indian landowners and so it's the management of those assets.

The Department of the Interior has not placed a dollar value on the amount of the problems that have come from the mismanagement.

We do know there have been problems.

We do know that throughout the last 130 years there have been a number of situations where records have been lost and where there are things that have been problems.

We are in the process now of doing an historical accounting that would allow us to look back through time and see whether there has been funds that have been lost that need to be restored to people, how the accounts actually stack up.

So we have been working to get that process underway.

. . .

We have had since December an injunction preventing our web sites from operating if they would allow hackers access to the Indian trust records. We've been working since then to try to get our systems back up and running and get court approval as we reopen parts of our system

We're now at about the halfway point of having about half our system back reconnected to the Internet. We've been working to get the most popular sites, like the National Park Service site back up and running. That is now up and running.

We have been working to try and get payments to Indians that had to be processed through our computer system. And we have most of those payments now being made. We've had to make some estimated payments for some types of those transactions because we didn't have the complete computer system going.

Get the Story:
Norton: No 'dollar amount' on trust fund mess (3/14)

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