- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Order 3384 (Order) on Tuesday that established the Bureau of Trust Funds Management.
The mission of the Bureau of Trust Funds Management is to manage American Indian financial assets of trust beneficiaries.
The Bureau of Trust Funds Management will report to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney.
The newly established Bureau will assume responsibility for financial operations functions currently performed by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) effective October 1, 2020.
Funds managed by the new Bureau are reportedly more than $1 billion annually in disbursements and have more than $5 billion under active day-to-day management and investment on behalf of Tribes and individuals.
The Order aligns with the DOI’s FY 2021 Budget proposal to ensure a smooth transition of important Trust financial operations and other functions which have accrued to OST over time, along with related functions performed by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and the Office of Historical Trust Accounting, to the new Bureau.
According to the DOI, no additional changes are proposed, and no employee relocations or loss in positions would occur with this realignment.
The law that created OST, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994, envisioned that OST would be terminated after trust reforms had been completed.
However, as the Indian trust management system was gradually reformed it became apparent to Interior that going back to the old way of doing business was unacceptable. Issuance of this Order is a critical step that will institutionalize and make permanent OST’s best practices, improve communication and coordination and enhance Interior’s ability to deliver services to Indian Country.
Support Independent Indigenous Journalism
Native News Online is an independent, Indigenous-led newsroom with a crucial mission: We want to change the narrative about Indian Country. We do this by producing intelligent, fact-based journalism that tells the full story from all corners of Indian Country. We pride ourselves on covering the tribes you may have never heard of before and by respecting and listening to the communities we serve through our reporting. As newsrooms across the country continue to shrink, coverage of Indian Country is more important than ever, and we are committed to filling this ever-present hole in journalism.
Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.