Information on how Native Americans in Montana can share in the recently approved $3.4 billion settlement of Indian Trust claims will be discussed at two newly-scheduled meetings in Montana next week, a new release from Elouise Cobell’s media director said.
On Tuesday, March 8, attorneys Bill Dorris and David Smith from the Kilpatrick Stockton law firm will discuss the settlement at 5 p.m. at the Browning High School Cafeteria, 105 Highway 89, in Browning.
At 5 p.m., on Wednesday, March 9, they will hold a meeting on Flathead Indian Reservation at the Johnny Arlee Victor Charlo Theater, building 83, 58138 Highway 93, in Pablo. This is on the Salish Kootenai College Campus.
Native Americans, whose families have individual Indian money trust accounts or who own individual Indian trust land, are welcome to attend these meetings regardless of their tribal affiliation and ask questions about the settlement.
In December. President Barack Obama signed legislation ending the 15-year-old class action lawsuit that Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation from Montana, and other Native Americans filed against the government in 1996.
The settlement acknowledges that the federal government mismanaged individual Indians’ trust accounts.
Under the settlement, the federal government is creating create a $1.5 billion Accounting/Trust Administration Fund and a $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund. The settlement also creates an Indian Education Scholarship fund of up to $60 million to improve access to higher education for Indians.
“The settlement represents a hard-won victory for Native Americans,” Cobell said in a news release. “Our hope is that these meetings and a public awareness campaign we are undertaking will get hundreds of thousands of Native Americans to apply for these funds. It has always been their money and I am delighted we can finally return some of it to them.”
“The settlement not only rights a tremendous wrong to Indian Country, but it will be a significant help to many Indians,” Ms. Cobell has said.