Former Reagan official ready to help out
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Last updated: 3:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Former Bureau of Indian Affairs Chief Ross O. Swimmer told Indianz.Com today he is ready to help the Bush administration and fellow Oklahoman Neal McCaleb create the new Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management.

"I would certainly like to see this effort go forward," said Ross in an interview. "It's certainly something that I'm interested in."

Swimmer, a Republican, declined to state specifically what position he will take in the effort to overhaul the BIA. But he added: "If I can help during the transition, I will."

An Interior spokesperson said the official announcement would be made later today.

Swimmer and current Assistant Secretary McCaleb worked together on former President Ronald Reagan's commission on Indian reservation economies. Swimmer chaired the committee while McCaleb was a member.

Both came under fire for recommending the BIA be dismantled and an Indian trust administration be created. Swimmer later was tapped to run the BIA by Reagan; McCaleb by President Bush, another Republican.

Swimmer said in his interview that he hopes to complete what he started during his original years at the Department of Interior. "I had begun a process 13 years ago" to revamp the system, he recalled. "We didn't get far beccause we didn't have time."

Swimmer, like other top officials, didn't discuss many specifics on the reorganization, as much of it is still undefined. He did say, however, that he believed the proposal was the right solution to problems that have festered for more than one hundred years.

"I think the division that will be set up to handle trust fund and asset management will work to the betterment of Indian people and the tribes."

Swimmer is former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Earlier this year, he decided against seeking the GOP nomination for the Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.), who is running for governor of Oklahoma.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Few answers on BIA overhaul (11/19)
Norton challenges trust fund receiver (11/19)
Gover: Indian Country had it coming (11/19)
BIA reorganization focus of radio show (11/19)
Norton defends quarterly reports (11/19)

Relevant Links:
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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Bush officials to speak at NCAI (11/16)
Norton files contempt defense (11/16)
Q&A on BIA Reorganization (11/16)
Developing: BIA stripped of trust duties (11/15)
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