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Cobell | Opinion
Editorial: Judge confirms government's failures

"With ongoing needs of three American Indian reservations in our area, and the constant reminder of the federal government’s failure to live up to treaty responsibilities in providing health care, housing, education and social services to Indian peoples living on the reservation, a court decision released Wednesday only confirms what we already know.

But the 165-page ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson involving a 1996 lawsuit by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell into how the U.S. Interior Department has handled trust accounts underscores that failure and admonishes the federal government for doing so. In plain writing, the District of Columbia U.S. Court decision criticizes Interior for mismanaging more than $100 billion in oil, gas, timber and other royalties held in trust from Indian lands dating back to 1887. And the ruling chastises Congress, which by the U.S. Constitution has a nation-to-nation status with Indian tribal governments, for not funding what it pledged in treaties signed more than 120 years ago to account for the trusts.

Oddly, he peppered his conclusion with quotes from Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” which tells of a never-ending legal suit. Hopefully, his decision can serve as a catalyst in not only settling this case, but also to spur Congress into structuring a new 21st century system of dealing with the federal government’s 19th century trust responsibilities."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Judge gives the Dickens to Interior (The Bemidji Pioneer 1/31)

Court Decision:
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (January 30, 2008)

Final Briefs:
Cobell Brief: Conclusions of Law | Cobell Brief: Findings of Fact | DOJ Brief: Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

Trial Transcripts:
Day 1 AM | Day 1 PM | Day 2 AM | Day 2 PM | Day 3 AM | Day 3 PM | Day 4 AM | Day 4 PM | Day 5 AM | Day 5 PM | Day 6 AM | Day 6 PM | Day 7 AM | Day 7 PM | Day 8 AM | Day 8 PM | Day 9 AM | Day 9 PM | Day 10 AM | Day 10 PM

Trial Order:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (April 20,2007)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -

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