Posts Tagged ‘Cobell vs. Salazar’

Elouise Cobell looks on during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the multi-billion dollar Cobell v Salazar law suit regarding decades of mismanagement of Indian lands on Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Elouise Cobell looks on during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the multi-billion dollar Cobell v Salazar law suit regarding decades of mismanagement of Indian lands on Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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Here’s the latest from the Associated Press on the Cobell case.

By KEVIN FREKING
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Payments of at least $1,500 each will go to the vast majority of American Indians participating in a long-running lawsuit against the federal government, and many will receive considerably more. It may not sound like much in the nation’s capital, but for many recipients the payment will feed a family for a few months.

With that admonition, Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., urged senators Thursday to quickly sign off on a $3.4 billion settlement that would bring a partial remedy to hundreds of thousands for the government’s mismanagement of Indian trust funds.

“We are compelled to settle now by the sobering reality that our class grows smaller each year, each month and every day,” said Cobell, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in June 1996.

“We also face the uncomfortable but unavoidable fact that a large number of individual Indian trust beneficiaries are among the most vulnerable people in this country, existing in sheer poverty.”

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Elouise Cobell’s sister, Julene Kennerly, made that comment while awaiting Cobell’s arrival at the Great Falls (Mont.) airport. TV station KFBB was there as friends and relatives who drove down from the Blackfeet Reservation north of Great Falls waited to greet Cobell, fresh from her landmark victory on behalf of Indian Country.

“A true warrior for Native Country,” friend Steven Powell said of Cobell.

The Cobell vs. Salazar case against the Interior Department resulted in a $3.4 billion settlement, announced Tuesday, that will help mitigate the effects of more than a century of mismanagement of Indian trust funds by the federal government. It’s the largest such settlement ever in the United States.

Her sister is right: Ms. Cobell is the best possible role model.

Gwen Florio

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Elouise Cobell is greeted by Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar following an announcement on the settlement of Cobell lawsuit at the Interior Department in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder follows is at the right. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Elouise Cobell, who is Blackfeet from Montana, is greeted by Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar following an announcement on the settlement of Cobell lawsuit. Attorney General Eric Holder follows is at the right. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

What a day yesterday! The Cobell story dominated the news around the country and even overseas. Not everyone is thrilled with it – the amount of money is still far below what was originally sought, and other cases are outstanding – nonetheless, it’s the largest such settlement ever in the history of the United States, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Here’s a roundup of some of today’s follow-up stories.

The story received prominent coverage in Indian Country Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and, as they say, many, many others.

Radio pieces include these from NPR. You can listen here, and here.

And finally, some words from Elouise Cobell herself: “I spent a lifetime trying to get justice,” she tells the Missoulian (Mont.) here. “ … “I feel very fortunate that I was able to fight for the under-represented.”

So do we, Ms. Cobell. So do we.

Gwen Florio

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Elouise Cobell, of Montana's Blackfeet tribe, poses today in Washington, D.C., after news of the $3 billion settlement in the long-running lawsuit she filed. (AP photo)

Elouise Cobell, of Montana's Blackfeet tribe, poses today in Washington, D.C., after news of the $3 billion settlement in the long-running lawsuit she filed. (AP photo)


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Here’s the updated story on today’s historic settlement:

By MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Tuesday proposed spending more than $3 billion to settle a long-running lawsuit with American Indian tribes that claim they were swindled out of billions of dollars in royalties for oil, gas, grazing and other leases dating back more than a century.
Under an agreement announced Tuesday, the Interior Department would distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Indian tribe members to compensate them for historical accounting claims, and to resolve future claims. The government also would spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations. The program would allow individual tribe members to obtain cash payments for land interests divided among numerous family members and return the land to tribal control.
The settlement also would create a scholarship account of up to $60 million for tribal members to attend college or vocational school.
If cleared by Congress and a federal judge, the settlement would be the largest Indian claim ever approved against the U.S. government – exceeding the combined total of all previous settlements of Indian claims.

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We’ll update throughout the day, but here’s the entire text of the initial Associated Press story:

By MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press Writer

Elouise Cobell

Elouise Cobell

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it will spend more than $3 billion to settle a long-running and contentious lawsuit over royalties owed to American Indians.

President Barack Obama hailed the settlement of the case, known as Cobell v. Salazar, as an important step to reconcile Indian tribes and the federal government.

“As a candidate, I heard from many in Indian Country that the Cobell suit remained a stain on the nation-to-nation relationship I value so much,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. “I pledged my commitment to resolving this issue, and I am proud that my administration has taken this step today.”

Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the Interior Department will distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 tribe members to compensate them for historical accounting claims, and to resolve future claims. The department also will spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land lost by previous generations. The program will allow individual tribe members to obtain cash payments for divided land interests and free up the land for the benefit of tribal communities.

The settlement resolves a 13-year-old dispute in which Indian tribes claim they were swindled out of billions of dollars in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties overseen by the Interior Department since 1887.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the settlement a historic, positive development for Indian country and a major step to reconcile decades of acrimony between Indian tribes and the federal government.

Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Montana who was the lead plaintiff in the case, called the proposed settlement crucial for hundreds of thousand of Native Americans who have suffered for more than a century through mismanagement of the Indian trust funds.

Cobell said she is hopeful that the settlement can “help break the cycle of poverty that has held too many families in poverty for generations.”

The proposed settlement still must be approved by Congress and a federal court judge.

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