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Trust
Ross Swimmer: No 'lump sum' settlement for Cobell


"I appreciate the Argus Leader's recent coverage of the long-running Cobell v. Norton lawsuit and proposed legislation to settle this contentious issue, however, the Argus Leader didn't quote anyone from the Department of the Interior, so I'd like to offer some clarification on these complex and often misunderstood issues.

I also would like to add some information that is important for all Indian trust beneficiaries.

The Argus Leader quotes lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell as saying, "There's something wrong with the fact that you have an oil well in your back yard, but yet you cannot afford to send your kids to school."

I completely agree, but in many cases the root of this problem is not related to the Cobell litigation. For example, there are many people in Indian Country who don't own the rights to the oil beneath the land's surface because an heir sold those rights, or because ownership of the land or trust resource is heavily "fractionated." While receiving a lump-sum payment certainly would be helpful for many people in Indian Country, it won't do anything necessarily to address these issues."

Get the Story:
Ross Swimmer: Land trust case no simple issue (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 12/18)

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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