Symposium imagines different future for Indian lands in trust

September 29, 2014

The care and keeping of 18 million acres of forest land, held in trust for Native Americans by the federal government for more than a century, will be the focus of an important symposium this week at Seattle University School of Law.

The Future of Trust Administration event, co-sponsored by the law school's Center for Indian Law and Policy and the Intertribal Timber Council, will draw experts in the fields of law, land use, environmental protection, governmental authority, and climate change.

Eric EberhardEric Eberhard, Distinguished Indian Law Practitioner in Residence and faculty co-director of the center, will welcome participants Friday morning. Professor Catherine O'Neill, the center's other faculty co-director, will also present at the symposium. Among the distinguished guests will be Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Other guests include key congressional staff, members of the Trust Reform Commission, tribal leaders, and Indian law scholars.

The future administration of land in trust could be substantially different than it is now, due to a convergence of several factors. Among them are increased recognition of tribal leaders and resource managers and dwindling financial resources from the federal government. 

The goal of the full-day symposium is to take advantage of an opportunity to reimagine administration of the lands in federal trust, and explore thoughtful, creative alternatives. Could the role of the federal government be reduced without liability? Could tribes take more control and what tools would they need to do so?

Participants hope to develop recommendations for action as well as provide the basis for new scholarship to support the recommendations. Register now to attend.