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Overview:
The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians was set up to oversee and reform management and accountability of policies and practices regarding Indian funds held in trust by the Federal Government. Then two years after it was created, a Native American woman, Elouise Cobell, filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that potentially billions of dollars, held since the late 1800s in trust for hundreds of thousands of Indians, were accounted for improperly. Her case has not yet been resolved. The man has headed OST since 2003, Ross Swimmer, was Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs during the Reagan administration, and at that time advocated eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
 
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History:
 

OST was established by the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-412), which addressed the fiduciary responsibilities of the United States toward Native Americans. It decreed the need for more effective management of their funds held in trust by the government, and that the OST should remain in existence until the Special Trustee who heads it is satisfied that all trust reforms have been accomplished. In 1996 the Secretary of the Interior ordered that the responsibility for trust fund management and preparation of financial statements for tribal and Indian Money Account funds (IIM) still being shepherded by the BIA be transferred to OST. Since then, OST has prepared, and independent public accountants have audited, yearly financial statements of the Indian Trust funds. Also in 1996, Elouise Cobell, a banker from the Blackfoot Nation, filed a class-action lawsuit now called Cobell vs. Kempthorne (previously Cobell vs. Norton and Covell vs. Babbit), claiming that the government had, since late in the 19th century, incorrectly accounted trusts it had held for hundreds of thousands of Indians, and that proper accounting would show that the government owed them billions of dollars. This led to a massive investigation, at a projected cost of more than $250 million, to aim by 2011 to have reconciled the figures and reformed the entire accounting process. In March 2007, the White House offered a total of $7 billion over 10 years to settle individual and tribal claims, pay for a computer security upgrade, and extinguish the suit, as well as prohibit any future litigation on the subject. The plaintiffs did not agree to the settlement, and on January 30, 2008, a federal judge ruled it would be “impossible” to ever produce reliable information from all those years back.

more
What it Does:
 
OST manages approximately $2.5 billion in tribal funds and more than $400 million in Individual Indian Money (IIM) Accounts.
-        For more than 315 tribes, it handles nearly $460 million in annual receipts, from judgment awards, settlements, use of tribal resources, and interest earned, in more than 1,400 accounts.
-        For Native American trust beneficiaries, it issues more than 513,000 checks per year; handles approximately 32,400 trust transactions per day, adding up to more than $8 million annually; and is involved with over $330 million in yearly receipts from leases, use permits, land sales and interest on deposited funds for over 285,000 IIM accounts.
 
It is entrusted with protecting and preserving the IIM assets, and collecting and accurately accounting for income due, in a timely manner. In addition, it is responsible for Indian land valuations, making estimates of market value for real property interests on land owned in trust or restricted status.
 
It also operates a toll-free Trust Beneficiary Call Center, and oversees the storage facility for all inactive Indian records in Lenexa, Kansas, as well as a records management and archival certificate training program at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.
 
From the Web Site of the OST

News

more
Where Does the Money Go:
more
Controversies:

 

Cobell Lawsuit
The Verdict: It's Broken (editorial, New York Times)
Task is Called 'Impossible' (by Chris Casteel, Indian Trust)
Cobell v. Norton: Redressing a Century of Malfeasance (by Keith Harper, American Bar Association)
Judge Says Indians owed $455M in trust case (by Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press)

Federal judge grants appeal of Cobell judgment

(by Jodi Rave, Missoulian)

more

Comments

CHARLES WOOD 10 months ago
I RECEIVED A CHECK TODAY FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL TRUSTEE FOR AMERICAN INDIANS FOR 1,000.00. I DO NOT KNOW WHY I RECEIVED THIS BUT ANY ANSWER WILL BE HELPFUL OR A PHONE NUMBER.
Pamela Cook 3 years ago
Since 1981 to present, my parents, who are now deceased; have been receiving oil and gas income from their Indian allotted lands. The oil trucks that pick up the oil my this Indian land, do not leave an oil ticket showing how much oil is pick up? I wrote a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs complaining about this and the wrote me back, stating, " it is not their responsibilty to monitor and check how much oil is actually being taken out of the ground!" How absurd is that...th...
Steven J. Murphy 4 years ago
I was looking for a case I thought it was Ellery Verses Swimmer concerning Certificate Degree of Indian Blood - where the it can't be lowered. Could you provide a resource please. Also for my research if individuals have blood quatum thats been icorrect through negligent recording keeping - are they entitled to back per caps.? Respectfully Steven J Murphy- I'm not an enrolled member in any Native American Tribe.
George I Sibbits 4 years ago
I recently recieved a check for a little over $5,000.00 #100n009624 #100N009596 and if possible I'd like to know where it came from? I also have another question I'm in hopes you can help me with. I was adopted very young, but was born in a hospital by doctor Kemmans, which I believe automacticly enrolls me in the puyallup tribe from birth. The by laws state I need a parent enrolled for me to be enrolled. Back in 2000 when I tryed to enroll the tribe kept me out for three ye...

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Founded: 1994
Annual Budget: $196.2 million
Employees: 650
Official Website: http://www.doi.gov/ost/
Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST)
Logan, Vincent
Special Trustee

On September 21, President Barack Obama announced Vincent Logan, a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, as his nominee for Special Trustee for American Indians. The Office of Special Trustee (OST) is an agency within the Department of the Interior established in 1994 to oversee and reform management and accountability of policies and practices regarding about $3.7 billion of Indian funds held in trust by the Federal Government. The position has been vacant since Ross Swimmer, a member of the Cherokee Nation who held the post for nearly six years, resigned in January 2009. If confirmed by the Senate, Logan would be just the fourth person to lead OST and only the second tribal member.

 

Born circa 1957 and raised in Norman, Oklahoma, Vincent Garfield Logan earned a B.S. in Political Science at Oklahoma State University in 1979, and a J.D. at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1983. Relocating to New York in 1986, Logan attended Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

 

Logan practiced law in the Antitrust Division at the United States Department of Justice from 1996 to 1998, and as a corporate finance attorney for Schulte, Roth, & Zabel from June 2001 to February 2006. Shifting gears, Logan worked as a “Private Wealth Associate” in the Private Banking and Investment Group at Merrill Lynch from March 2006 to March 2009, when Merrill Lynch, a casualty of the 2008 financial crisis, was taken over by Bank of America. Undaunted, Logan founded his own firm, The Nations Group, LLC, which works with Native American tribes on asset management, investment strategies, and financial education. 

 

Logan was appointed to the Oklahoma State University Foundation Board of Governors in September 2010.   

-Matt Bewig

 

Curriculum Vitae

What Should Tribal Nations Expect From Wall Street? (by Diane J. Schmidt, Indian Country Today Media Network)

more
Swimmer, Ross
Previous Special Trustee
Ross Swimmer, a member of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest Indian tribe in the U.S., was named the Special Trustee for American Indians on April 17, 2003. He received both his BA and Juris Doctor degrees from Oklahoma University, and since then has had legal and consulting practices in Oklahoma, and served as President of a bank and of a manufacturing company owned by the Cherokee Nation. In 1975, Swimmer became the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief, serving three successive terms until resigning in 1985 to accept President Reagan’s appointment to the position of Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs. He was there for the next three years, during which he advocated eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs. From 1995 until 2001 Swimmer was President of the Cherokee Group, L.L.C., a consulting firm that represents Indian clients engaged in government issues, and which is a strong supporter of the development of businesses on Indian lands. In 2001, Swimmer became Director of the Office of Indian Trust Transition, where he remained until he was chosen by President Bush for his current position.
 
Swimmer has also been the Co-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies, and Chairman of the White House Conference on Indian Education. Swimmer has contributed to the political campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats.
 

Ross Swimmer Cartoon (by Marty Two Bulls, Indian Country Today)

 

 
more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:
The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians was set up to oversee and reform management and accountability of policies and practices regarding Indian funds held in trust by the Federal Government. Then two years after it was created, a Native American woman, Elouise Cobell, filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that potentially billions of dollars, held since the late 1800s in trust for hundreds of thousands of Indians, were accounted for improperly. Her case has not yet been resolved. The man has headed OST since 2003, Ross Swimmer, was Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs during the Reagan administration, and at that time advocated eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
 
more
History:
 

OST was established by the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-412), which addressed the fiduciary responsibilities of the United States toward Native Americans. It decreed the need for more effective management of their funds held in trust by the government, and that the OST should remain in existence until the Special Trustee who heads it is satisfied that all trust reforms have been accomplished. In 1996 the Secretary of the Interior ordered that the responsibility for trust fund management and preparation of financial statements for tribal and Indian Money Account funds (IIM) still being shepherded by the BIA be transferred to OST. Since then, OST has prepared, and independent public accountants have audited, yearly financial statements of the Indian Trust funds. Also in 1996, Elouise Cobell, a banker from the Blackfoot Nation, filed a class-action lawsuit now called Cobell vs. Kempthorne (previously Cobell vs. Norton and Covell vs. Babbit), claiming that the government had, since late in the 19th century, incorrectly accounted trusts it had held for hundreds of thousands of Indians, and that proper accounting would show that the government owed them billions of dollars. This led to a massive investigation, at a projected cost of more than $250 million, to aim by 2011 to have reconciled the figures and reformed the entire accounting process. In March 2007, the White House offered a total of $7 billion over 10 years to settle individual and tribal claims, pay for a computer security upgrade, and extinguish the suit, as well as prohibit any future litigation on the subject. The plaintiffs did not agree to the settlement, and on January 30, 2008, a federal judge ruled it would be “impossible” to ever produce reliable information from all those years back.

more
What it Does:
 
OST manages approximately $2.5 billion in tribal funds and more than $400 million in Individual Indian Money (IIM) Accounts.
-        For more than 315 tribes, it handles nearly $460 million in annual receipts, from judgment awards, settlements, use of tribal resources, and interest earned, in more than 1,400 accounts.
-        For Native American trust beneficiaries, it issues more than 513,000 checks per year; handles approximately 32,400 trust transactions per day, adding up to more than $8 million annually; and is involved with over $330 million in yearly receipts from leases, use permits, land sales and interest on deposited funds for over 285,000 IIM accounts.
 
It is entrusted with protecting and preserving the IIM assets, and collecting and accurately accounting for income due, in a timely manner. In addition, it is responsible for Indian land valuations, making estimates of market value for real property interests on land owned in trust or restricted status.
 
It also operates a toll-free Trust Beneficiary Call Center, and oversees the storage facility for all inactive Indian records in Lenexa, Kansas, as well as a records management and archival certificate training program at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.
 
From the Web Site of the OST

News

more
Where Does the Money Go:
more
Controversies:

 

Cobell Lawsuit
The Verdict: It's Broken (editorial, New York Times)
Task is Called 'Impossible' (by Chris Casteel, Indian Trust)
Cobell v. Norton: Redressing a Century of Malfeasance (by Keith Harper, American Bar Association)
Judge Says Indians owed $455M in trust case (by Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press)

Federal judge grants appeal of Cobell judgment

(by Jodi Rave, Missoulian)

more

Comments

CHARLES WOOD 10 months ago
I RECEIVED A CHECK TODAY FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL TRUSTEE FOR AMERICAN INDIANS FOR 1,000.00. I DO NOT KNOW WHY I RECEIVED THIS BUT ANY ANSWER WILL BE HELPFUL OR A PHONE NUMBER.
Pamela Cook 3 years ago
Since 1981 to present, my parents, who are now deceased; have been receiving oil and gas income from their Indian allotted lands. The oil trucks that pick up the oil my this Indian land, do not leave an oil ticket showing how much oil is pick up? I wrote a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs complaining about this and the wrote me back, stating, " it is not their responsibilty to monitor and check how much oil is actually being taken out of the ground!" How absurd is that...th...
Steven J. Murphy 4 years ago
I was looking for a case I thought it was Ellery Verses Swimmer concerning Certificate Degree of Indian Blood - where the it can't be lowered. Could you provide a resource please. Also for my research if individuals have blood quatum thats been icorrect through negligent recording keeping - are they entitled to back per caps.? Respectfully Steven J Murphy- I'm not an enrolled member in any Native American Tribe.
George I Sibbits 4 years ago
I recently recieved a check for a little over $5,000.00 #100n009624 #100N009596 and if possible I'd like to know where it came from? I also have another question I'm in hopes you can help me with. I was adopted very young, but was born in a hospital by doctor Kemmans, which I believe automacticly enrolls me in the puyallup tribe from birth. The by laws state I need a parent enrolled for me to be enrolled. Back in 2000 when I tryed to enroll the tribe kept me out for three ye...

Leave a comment

captcha

Founded: 1994
Annual Budget: $196.2 million
Employees: 650
Official Website: http://www.doi.gov/ost/
Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST)
Logan, Vincent
Special Trustee

On September 21, President Barack Obama announced Vincent Logan, a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, as his nominee for Special Trustee for American Indians. The Office of Special Trustee (OST) is an agency within the Department of the Interior established in 1994 to oversee and reform management and accountability of policies and practices regarding about $3.7 billion of Indian funds held in trust by the Federal Government. The position has been vacant since Ross Swimmer, a member of the Cherokee Nation who held the post for nearly six years, resigned in January 2009. If confirmed by the Senate, Logan would be just the fourth person to lead OST and only the second tribal member.

 

Born circa 1957 and raised in Norman, Oklahoma, Vincent Garfield Logan earned a B.S. in Political Science at Oklahoma State University in 1979, and a J.D. at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1983. Relocating to New York in 1986, Logan attended Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

 

Logan practiced law in the Antitrust Division at the United States Department of Justice from 1996 to 1998, and as a corporate finance attorney for Schulte, Roth, & Zabel from June 2001 to February 2006. Shifting gears, Logan worked as a “Private Wealth Associate” in the Private Banking and Investment Group at Merrill Lynch from March 2006 to March 2009, when Merrill Lynch, a casualty of the 2008 financial crisis, was taken over by Bank of America. Undaunted, Logan founded his own firm, The Nations Group, LLC, which works with Native American tribes on asset management, investment strategies, and financial education. 

 

Logan was appointed to the Oklahoma State University Foundation Board of Governors in September 2010.   

-Matt Bewig

 

Curriculum Vitae

What Should Tribal Nations Expect From Wall Street? (by Diane J. Schmidt, Indian Country Today Media Network)

more
Swimmer, Ross
Previous Special Trustee
Ross Swimmer, a member of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest Indian tribe in the U.S., was named the Special Trustee for American Indians on April 17, 2003. He received both his BA and Juris Doctor degrees from Oklahoma University, and since then has had legal and consulting practices in Oklahoma, and served as President of a bank and of a manufacturing company owned by the Cherokee Nation. In 1975, Swimmer became the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief, serving three successive terms until resigning in 1985 to accept President Reagan’s appointment to the position of Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs. He was there for the next three years, during which he advocated eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs. From 1995 until 2001 Swimmer was President of the Cherokee Group, L.L.C., a consulting firm that represents Indian clients engaged in government issues, and which is a strong supporter of the development of businesses on Indian lands. In 2001, Swimmer became Director of the Office of Indian Trust Transition, where he remained until he was chosen by President Bush for his current position.
 
Swimmer has also been the Co-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies, and Chairman of the White House Conference on Indian Education. Swimmer has contributed to the political campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats.
 

Ross Swimmer Cartoon (by Marty Two Bulls, Indian Country Today)

 

 
more