On June 22, 2016, the President signed HR 812 as PL 114-178, the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (Act). The Act reaffirms the responsibility of the United States to Indian tribes; authorizes a demonstration project for tribes to voluntarily negotiate with the Secretary of the Interior to manage their own trust assets; creates the option for the Secretary to establish an Under Secretary for Indian Affairs; and sets up a process to terminate the Office of the Special Trustee.
In other words, this is a VERY big deal. There have been numerous lawsuits filed against the federal government for failing to appropriately manage tribal trust assets and, in the spirit of self-determination, this legislation begins to hand some of that management back over to tribes. In a Congress bogged down by election partisan politics, Indian Country continues to chip away at issues important to us and find some success.
HR 812 was introduced by Representatives Simpson (R-ID); Cole (R-OK); and Heck (D-WA). Companion legislation was introduced by Senator Crapo (R-ID). A copy of HR 812, as presented to the President for signature, is here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr812enr/pdf/BILLS-114hr812enr.pdf
Read more from our General Memorandum here