Letter to the editor
While Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton did not create the unfortunate
Indian trust fund problems, you are correct to note that it is her job to
fix the mess that has been a plague for over 100 years. That is exactly
what has been taking place since the Bush Administration assumed office.
Judge Lamberth's recent contempt ruling is based on facts in a trial
that ended in February 2002. Regrettably, both his ruling and your article
["Interior management slammed"]
fail to take into account measurable accomplishments achieved by the Department
of the Interior. For example:
A. There has been unprecedented consultation between Interior and American
Indian country involving hundreds of hours of consultation by senior departmental
officials. Indian tribal leaders have acknowledged that this type of collaboration
has not been seen in modern times.
B. Secretary Norton established a new Office of Historical Trust Accounting
to complete historical accounting for individual and tribal Indian accounts.
In less than a year, it has completed historical accounting for 11,609 accounts.
C. Secretary Norton has requested for fiscal 2003 a record $83.6 million
in spending increases for trust management and accounting. This provides
a 44 percent increase for the office that oversees trust activities.
Last, [you failed to state that] Judge Lamberth's decision against the
Office of the Secretary was not against Secretary Gale Norton personally.
In fact, some of his ruling focused only on events that transpired before
she took office.
Still, the Department of the Interior, under Secretary Norton's leadership,
is committed to building upon the progress made in helping to solve the
long-standing problems associated with Indian trust accounts.
Director of communications