Fri Feb 28th, 2020
The Southern Ute Drum
The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of the Special Trustee (OST) for American Indians has welcomed in a new Fiduciary Trust Officer (FTO) to be the new primary point of contact for Indian beneficiary inquires. She will also be working closely with the local Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agency to ensure accountability of Indian funds that are held in trust by the federal government.
Mona Lisa Ashley-Barber started her 20-year government career as an accounting technician and is now the FTO for the Southern Ute Agency. She earned credits to become an official accountant where she stayed for 10 years before stepping into her current position. “Seeing the way IIM accounts were being handled it made me realize that some things were not being properly accounted for,” Ashley-Barber stated. “I wanted to do my part and help Native people, so I applied to be the FTO.”
As an accountant her priorities were managing Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts; these accounts are interest-bearing and are managed by DOI on behalf of a person who has money or other assets held for them in trust. An IIM account may also be established as a result of a court-ordered judgment or settlement award.
As the FTO her responsibilities now include, having extensive knowledge of fiduciary trust issues and she will now be working directly with Indian beneficiaries. The BIA has a wide range of responsibilities for Indian communities including the oversight of social services, law enforcement and education. In order to help with the workload, FTOs are conveniently located throughout Indian country and are specifically designed to work with the BIA and other federal employees to provide trust beneficiaries with information and assistance on all aspects of their trust assets.
Trust funds that are managed by Barber can be money coming from a variety of sources including commercial, industrial, recreational and agricultural leases. These funds are also collected for rights-of-way uses, grazing and range permits, land sales and in some cases, court judgment or settlement awards for tribes and individuals.
To better serve the Southern Ute tribal membership, Ashley-Barber has made a few trips out to the Southern Ute BIA agency and has presented her resources to Tribal Council. “I hope to share my knowledge and to help the best way I can,” Ashely-Barber expressed.
Ashley-Barber is currently working out of the recently moved OST office located in Farmington, N.M. She is available to answer, assist and guide you through most trust processes.