The federal trust responsibility to Indians essentially entails duties of good faith, loyalty, and protection. While often thought of as unique to federal Indian policy, it developed from and reflects common law principles of contracts, property, trusts, foreign relations/international law, and constitutional law. However, several issues preclude a greater understanding and implementation of the federal trust responsibility. These include Executive Branch efforts to avoid liability, neocolonial judicial activism, and episodic congressional attention. Enactment of legislation to reaffirm and modernize the federal trust responsibility through greater self-determination, integration, elevation, oversight, and funding should help overcome these issues to improve federal Indian policy.
Daniel I. Rey-Bear & Matthew L. Fletcher,
We Need Protection from Our Protectors: The Nature, Issues, and Future of the Federal Trust Responsibility to Indians,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol6/iss2/2