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Trust
Cobell calls trust reform bill a win for Interior


Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the trust fund lawsuit, said the trust reform bill introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) is a victory for the Interior Department.

Cobell said the bill erases the victories that the plaintiffs won in court. A key provision of the settlement portion requires Interior to pay Indian account holders only between January 1980 and December 2005.

But Cobell noted that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered an accounting of "all funds" within the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. The D.C. Circuit, in February 2001, specifically stated that Interior must perform a "complete historical accounting of trust fund assets."

Cobell was joined by Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians, and Jim Gray, the chairman of the Inter-Tribal Trust Fund Monitoring Association, in expressing reservations about the bill. They issued a statement [Link] noting that McCain called on Indian Country to develop consensus on settling Cobell and reforming the trust but that most of the principles they developed aren't included in the bill.

Cobell, Hall and possibly Gray are expected to testify on Tuesday, July 26, at a hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Get the Story:
Indian trust settlement bill criticized (The Rapid City Journal 7/22)

Senate Documents:
John McCain Statement | Byron Dorgan Statement | Full Text of Bill as Introduced

Relevant Documents:
Trust Reform and Cobell Settlement Workgroup Principles for Legislation (June 2005)

Related Story:
Federal official: Native trust fund accounts vulnerable (The Lincoln Journal Star 7/21)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org
Intertribal Trust Fund Monitoring Association - http://www.itmatrustfunds.org

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