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.”