Posts Tagged ‘indian land trust’

The four objectors to the historic Cobell land trust mismanagment settlement say they’re not backing down, even after their names and phones numbers were published in an open letter printed online and sent to thousands of plaintiffs prompted them to receive angry phones calls.

As Associated Press reporter Matt Volz reports, Carol Good Bear is one of the objectors that received a flood of angry phone calls.

    At first, the resident of New Town, N.D., hung up on the angry voices at the other end. After 15 calls, she unplugged her home phone and started screening her cellphone calls.

    She said she worries for her safety now that her address is in the hands of hundreds of thousands of people who might blame her for holding up their money.

    “To put my name out there for the public, I think that’s scary that these attorneys would use this tactic and intimidate me into dropping my appeal,” Good Bear said. “I don’t have protection. If somebody is upset about all this and comes at me with a gun, what am I supposed to do?”

The Cobell settlement was approved by the courts last fall after almost 16 years of court battles. Payments were scheduled to be send out in November before the objections were filed.

    The plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by Dennis Gingold of Washington, D.C., wrote in their letter that the “hopes and wishes of 500,000 individual Indians” had been delayed by those four people. If it wasn’t for them, the first payments would have been made before Thanksgiving, the letter said.

    “There is little doubt that they do not share the desires or care about the needs of the class, over 99.9 percent of whom support a prompt conclusion to this long-running, acrimonious case,” the attorneys wrote.

    The letter went on to list the names, phone numbers and addresses of Good Bear; Kimberly Craven of Boulder, Co.; Charles Colombe of Mission, S.D.; and Mary Lee Johns of Lincoln, Neb. The attorneys invited people to “ask them directly about their motives” and cautioned them to “please be civil in your communications.”

Jenna Cederberg

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Elouise Cobell (Associated Press)


It was another triumphant day in court for those whose lives have been wrapped up in the Cobell vs. Salazar case for more than 15 years, as a district judge gave final approval to the settlement Monday.

Although the case’s champion, couldn’t be there because she continues a fight against cancer, Elouise Cobell called the judge during the hearing to express her sentiment that the settlement will bring hope to Indian Country.

Barring an appeal, the ruling gives the Interior Department the lease to begin making payments to entitled parties.

The AP covered the story, and here’s the rundown of the Indian trust mismanagement from Elouise Cobell’s camp:

    From Bill McAllister:

    WASHINGTON – Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan has given final approval to a $3.4 billion settlement over the federal government’s acknowledged long-running mismanagement of the Indian Trust.

    Unless appealed, the ruling will give Native Americans the largest settlement ever reached with the federal government.

    Once Hogan enters a written opinion on the ruling he gave from the bench Monday, the Interior Department may be able to begin making payments to the nearly 500,000 Native Americans as early as August. Only 92 individuals filed papers to object of the settlement.

    Those numbers indicate that an overwhelming number of Native Americans approve of the settlement, the judge said.

    “I am certainly not convinced that a better result could be achieved by taking it to all the way to trial,” the judge said. “It’s hard to see there could be a better result.”

    If the case had not been settled, Judge Hogan predicted it would linger in the courts for another 15 years.

    After presiding over a daylong fairness hearing on the settlement, Hogan said in an oral ruling he would give final approval to the settlement, holding it to be “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

    The judge also gave high praise to Elouise Cobell, the Blackfeet woman from Montana whose name became synonymous with the class action lawsuit she and four other Indians filed against the government in 1996.

    “She has done more for the individual Native American than any other person in recent years,” said the judge.

    Cobell has shown “unusual effort and courage” in leading the lawsuit, the judge said.

    Lead attorney Dennis M. Gingold said, Cobell “has dedicated her life to righting this wrong.”

    Earlier in the day Cobell told the judge by telephone that the courts had been willing to help Native Americans when the other branches of the federal government failed them.

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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.

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