Indian Affairs Under Self-Determination: Views from Behind the Scenes

Short Seminar

January 8–10, 2013

Indian Affairs Under Self-Determination: Views from Behind the ScenesIndian Affairs Under Self-Determination: Views from Behind the ScenesShort Seminar Co-chaired by Katheleen Guzman, Associate Dean for Academics, College of Law, University of Oklahoma and Kristin Ruppel, Associate Professor, Native American Studies, Montana State University, January 8–10, 2013Indian Affairs Under Self-Determination: Views from Behind the ScenesShort Seminar Co-chaired by Katheleen Guzman, Associate Dean for Academics, College of Law, University of Oklahoma and Kristin Ruppel, Associate Professor, Native American Studies, Montana State University, January 8–10, 2013

This seminar aimed to reveal what American Indian “self-determination” looks like from the perspective of those actually involved in its implementation. This was not so much a “bottom-up” perspective as it was a look at what has happened behind the scenes, among Indian accountants, probate judges, land appraisers, realty experts, Indian landowner advocates, and attorneys from across the country. The collective experience and expertise of this seminar’s participants on federal Indian trust-related issues—all of them having worked on or around Indian law, accounting, appraising, and realty, and with tribal leaders, since the 1970s—represented a unique window on the evolution of the federal Indian trust during the so-called “Self-Determination Era” of the United States federal Indian policy.

“What resulted during our three days together was a remarkably rich and wide ranging conversation organized around the three broad topics of Land, Agencies, and Budget; and one overarching question having to do with what trust reform should look like if it is to be in keeping with American Indian value systems and present realities,” reported co-chairs, Kathleen Guzman and Kristin Ruppel. “Energy development, in particular, became a central topic of conversation as participants recounted story after story of unfair leases and rights-of-way negotiations manipulated by officials from oil and gas companies and, sometimes, the tribes themselves,” they wrote.

Because the seminar brought together a diversity of people when it was convened, the rich collaboration that resulted from their time together led to continuing contact and sharing of results, projects and successes with and between the participants and their colleagues. Days after the seminar ended, one of the participants, Sharon Redthunder passed away. The other seminarians plan to dedicate the resulting publications to her memory.

Katheleen Guzman, Chair Associate Dean for Academics, College of Law, University of Oklahoma
Kristin Ruppel, Chair Associate Professor, Native American Studies, Montana State University
Patrick Adakai Dine' Tribe from the Navajo Nation of New Mexico
Theodora Bird Bear Board Member, Dakota Resource Council
Lela Beckwith President, ICC Indian Enterprises
Terry Beckwith Vice President, ICC Indian Enterprises
Michael D. Hughes Consultant on Indian Affairs
Sharon Redthunder Native American Land, Title & Estate Planning Consultant, Redthunder Consulting
Helen Sanders Chehalis Reservation (Quinault allottee)

Sponsored by The Annenberg Foundation

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