Guardian/Ward Fiduciary Relationship – Federal Government (Guardian) must manage Tribes’ (Wards) Estates in Good Faith

Fiduciary Relationship – where one person is under a duty to act with a high degree of care (the fiduciary) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary) on matters within the scope of the relationship.

     In the fiduciary relationship between each American Indian tribe and the U.S. federal government, the government acts as the fiduciary to each tribe as a beneficiary.

Fiduciary – someone who owes to another the duties of good faith, loyalty, due care, & disclosure in managing another’s money or property.

Beneficiary – someone who is designated to receive something as a result of a legal arrangement or instrument.

     As fiduciary, the federal government must manage tribal affairs in the best interest of the tribes.  The government acts as guardian to each of the tribes who are considered wards.

Guardian – someone who has the legal authority & duty to care for another’s person or property, especially because of the other’s infancy, incapacity, or disability.

Ward – a person, usually a minor, who is under a guardian’s charge or protection.

     Much as a parent owns and manages the estates of their children, a guardian owns and manages the estate of a ward so as to act in the child’s best interest.

     Besides serving a Guardian/Ward relationship, the federal government also manages a trustee/beneficiary fiduciary relationship.

Trustee/Beneficiary Fiduciary Relationship – Federal Government (Trustee) must act in the best interest of Tribes (Beneficiaries) in managing their estates.


All material utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: All definitions, unless otherwise specified, from Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4


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