WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney announced today that she approved the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians’ Indian Trust Asset Management Plan (ITAMP) and forestry regulations on December 8, 2020. The approval is the Interior Department’s second Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project.
On February 22, 2019, the Cow Creek Band, whose reservation is located in southwest Oregon, became the second federally recognized tribe to be approved to participate in the demonstration project. On July 21, 2020, it also became the second to submit an ITAMP.
“I congratulate the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians for participating in the Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project to achieve greater control over their forestry assets,” said Assistant Secretary Sweeney. “With this approval, Cow Creek Band’s leaders are now positioned to fully utilize its assets without further involvement of the Interior Department. I wish them every success in using this new authority for the benefit of their members.”
“This approval reestablishes our Tribe once again as the rightful caretaker of our forest lands, which is the most significant step in Indian self-determination since our lands were taken from us so many years ago,” said Dan Courtney, chairman of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. “We hope that this action by the BIA will serve as a model and a catalyst for other advancements in Indian self-determination and restoration of full sovereignty for our Tribe and other Tribes across the country.”
The demonstration project was established under the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act of 2016. Title II of the act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to establish and carry out an Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project. Under the project, tribes engaged in forest land management and/or surface leasing activities on trust lands may apply to participate in it. If selected, a tribe must submit an ITAMP for the management of its trust assets.
A proposed tribal ITAMP must have provisions that:
- Identify the trust assets that will be subject to the proposed plan;
- Establish trust asset management objectives and priorities for Indian trust assets that are located within the reservation, or otherwise subject to the jurisdiction, of the tribe;
- Allocate trust asset management funding available for the Indian trust assets subject to the proposed plan in order to meet the trust asset management objectives and priorities;
- If the tribe has contracted or compacted functions or activities under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) relating to the management of trust assets, identify the functions or activities that are being, or will be, performed by it under contracts, compacts, or other agreements under that Act, which may include any of the surface leasing or forest land management activities authorized by the proposed plan;
- Establish procedures for nonbinding mediation or resolution of any dispute between the tribe and the United States relating to the proposed plan;
- Include a process for the tribe and the federal agencies affected by the plan to conduct evaluations to ensure that trust assets are being managed in accordance with the proposed plan; and
- Identify any federal regulations that will be superseded by the proposed plan.
The BIA’s Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Management (DFWFM), which, with the Department’s Solicitor’s Office, reviewed Cow Creek’s plan, also provided technical assistance to the tribe during the ITAMP’s development.
With its ITAMP approved, the Cow Creek Band now has the authority to conduct forest land management activities on its forest lands held in trust by DOI without further approval from the Secretary.
The Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues, communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the BIA and the BIE, provides leadership in consultations with tribes, and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on Indian matters.
The Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Management (DFWFM) in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Trust Services (OTS) oversees the National Indian Forestry and Wildland Fire Management Program, which is a cooperative effort of the Interior Department, the OTS Deputy Bureau Director, the Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Management, the Intertribal Timber Council, and reservation-based tribal governments. The Division is responsible for providing coordination, management, planning, oversight, and monitoring for all activities, including the National Wildland Fire Program, related to the development and protection of trust forest resources.