The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration manages the financial assets of American Indians held in trust by the Department of the Interior. We disburse more than $1 billion annually and have more than $5 billion under active day-to-day management and investment on behalf of Tribes and individuals.
The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration also maintains the official archive of American Indian Records. This program safeguards millions of original, historic documents that detail the Federal government’s treaty obligations to Native Americans.
The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration is one of three bureaus within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Our national programs employ more than 400 individuals working in 54 field offices around the country. Most field offices are co-located with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
In a reorganization effective October 1, 2020, the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration assumed the fiduciary functions previously managed by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians. Established by the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994, the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians worked to improve the accountability and management of Indian assets through oversight, reform, and coordination of Federal policy.
In the late 1800s, Indian Tribes signed treaties with the United States government. While terms varied, most treaties involved Tribes ceding title for their lands to the United States Government in exchange for protection, health care, education, permanent reservations, and sovereignty. In many cases, Tribes retained rights to resources and how they can be used on lands they ceded to the government, even when those lands extended beyond the borders of their reservations. These rights included drilling, grazing, hunting, mining, timber production, and other land uses through which companies make money.
Today the U.S. Department of the Interior holds 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres in subsurface estates “in trust” for Native Americans. This Federal trust responsibility mandates both a moral and legal, fiduciary obligation to protect Tribal treaty rights, land assets, and other resources in perpetuity. To avoid a conflict of interest, the responsibility of managing the land assets (handled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, as well as other bureaus) is separate from the management of money earned by those assets (handled by the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration).