David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, writes in Indian Country Today that the United States should honor its pledge to American Indians in regards managing trust assets and Indian water rights.
He states in part: “Two years ago, President Barack Obama and Secretary Ken Salazar vowed that this administration would work with Native Americans to empower tribal governments, fulfill our trust responsibilities to tribal members and help tribal leaders build safer, stronger, healthier and more prosperous communities.”
He points to actions by the Senate on Nov. 19 as proof of the fulfillment of that promise.
On that day, the Senate authorized the Cobell settlement (which the US House has also approved).
He also states “that Cobell is only the start of true trust reform. The Department of the Interior, in consultation with tribes, is establishing a Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. This commission will undertake a forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of how Interior manages and administers our trust responsibilities.”
He also notes Senate approval of four Indian water rights settlements that total more than $1 billion for tribal water projects in New Mexico, Arizona, and Montana.