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Labor Day Deadline Looms for Public Input on Indian Trust Reform

courtesy of University of Arkansas website

The Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reformis coming to the end of its two year appointment.  Commissioner Stacy Leeds says they “will hunker down and write this thing” in the fall, so that it may be presented to President Obama during his yearly meeting with tribal leaders in Washington, D.C.  in December.

The Department of the Interiorcreated the Commission to address the mismanagement issues that came out in the Cobell litigation concerning Indian trust funds and Indian land.

“We've done meetings throughout the United States, we've met in D.C., Albuquerque, we met in Nashville, we have a meeting scheduled in Alaska,” said Leeds. In these meetings speakers are brought in to discuss ideas and any new developments in the law.

“And then we have a public session where either tribes or allottees who have land of their own, or federal employees, anybody that has dealings in these issues, we have a public comments section,” said Leeds.

“We heard from people about some of the issues that they're having either with the Bureau of Indian Affairsor the Office of the Special Trustee.  Some of it was recommendations about how people feel we might fix a system that they deem broken,” said Leeds.

“Part of it is just situations that have developed and personal stories of what they are seeing in the field and all of that is to help inform us for when we put our recommendations together as to what we might suggest.”

Interested parties who didn’t make the meeting can Google "trust administration and reform" to find a separate website for the Commission where all the documents can be found. “And there is an email address there that anybody can send written comments, either giving us ideas of what we would add in our report or just telling us about problems that they have,” said Leeds.

Cherokee Nation member Stacy Leeds is named aptly, as she had led the way with many firsts in her career.  She is the first Native American women to serve as a Dean of a law school, at the University of Arkansas.  She was the youngest and first women to serve as a Supreme Court justice for the Cherokee Nation. 

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