indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Judge rejects Osage Nation brief in Cobell case
Friday, June 13, 2008
Filed Under: Cobell

A federal judge on Thursday denied an attempt by the Osage Nation to enter the Indian trust fund lawsuit but the status of the tribe's hefty royalties remains at issue as the case heads towards final resolution.

The tribe filed a last-minute brief that claimed ownership of a valuable mineral estate in northeastern Oklahoma. According to data from the federal government, oil and gas royalties from the Osage Reservation could account for as much as 20 percent of the Indian trust.

The tribe supported the right of the Cobell plaintiffs to receive a judgment for the government's failure to account for the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. But the brief also accused the plaintiffs of trying to include tribal assets in their claim for $58 billion in restitution.

"Although the plaintiffs admit in their reply brief that the Osage Nation owns the mineral estate, they go on to argue that the income from the estate does not belong to the Osage Nation. They seek to turn the Osage Nation's ownership of the minerals into a meaningless fiction," attorneys for the tribe wrote in their May 29 motion.

Coming shortly before the trial that started on June 9, the brief raised a significant issue for Judge James Robertson. He is trying to decide how much money is owed to Indian beneficiaries for the government's failure to account and he has asked both sides in the case for their views on the Osage trust.

The Osage trust is unique because it was created by a separate act of Congress. Royalties from the reservation are distributed to individual tribal members based on a system of "headright" ownership.

The plaintiffs included the Osage headrights in their model for restitution due to their character as individual trust funds. But the Department of Justice, in questioning one witness, suggested it was wrong to do so.

Excluding the Osage revenues would in fact cut down the plaintiffs' claim for $58 billion significantly, economic expert Bradford Cornell acknowledged under cross-examination. "That's like about eleven-plus billion dollars?" asked John Warshawsky, an attorney for the government. "Yes," Cornell responded on Monday.

Cornell didn't testify whether or not he knows the Osage revenues are individual trust funds. But another plaintiffs' witness brought her experience to the table.

Mona Infield, a Bureau of Indian Affairs employee, spent more than a decade working on the Osage trust in Oklahoma. At one point, the tribe employed her directly to handle the royalties.

Infield, who now works in New Mexico, said it was clear to her that the Osage royalties are individual Indian trust funds. "It would be very surprising to me to hear that those were actually tribal trust funds," she testified on Monday in response to the tribe's assertions.

A witness for the government, on the other hand, testified that she excluded Osage royalties from IIM disbursement figures. Michelle Herman, of FTI Consulting, supported the view that headright payments aren't part of the system.

"There are some payments that are made directly from the tribal trust to owners of headrights, and that money would not be included," Herman said on Wednesday.

Robertson hasn't expressed views one way or another on the issue though his pre-trial order sought evidence on the inclusion of the Osage headrights in the plaintiffs' claim for restitution. He didn't explain why he rejected the Osage brief yesterday.

So far, Robertson has heard four days of testimony in what is turning out to be a quick-moving trial. The plaintiffs rested their main case on Wednesday and the government began calling its witnesses.

Testimony resumes Monday with more government witnesses and plaintiffs plan to call some rebuttal witnesses. The trial is expected to wrap up next week and Robertson has said he intends to issue a ruling later this summer.

Separately, the Osage Nation is suing the government in the U.S. Court of Claims for failing to account for an estimated $2.5 billion in headright royalties.

Relevant Documents:
Osage Nation Brief | Denial of Osage Brief

Trial Transcripts:
June 9 AM | June 9 PM | June 10 AM | June 10 PM | June 11 | June 12 AM

Related Stories:
Editorial: $58B trust payout more than fair (6/13)
Editorial: Indians short-changed by trustee (6/13)
Cobell plaintiffs rest case in trust fund trial (6/12)
Cobell plaintiffs focus on $58B claim at trial (6/11)
Trial seeks to resolve Indian trust fund lawsuit (6/11)
Judge opens landmark trial in Cobell trust fund case (6/10)
Jodi Rave: Cobell happy with opening day of trial (6/10)
Jodi Rave: Cobell trial begins in Washington DC (6/9)
Cobell trust fund case set for final trial (6/3)
After six-plus years, BIA website finally online (05/27)
BIA to be fully online in a couple of months (5/21)
Interior heads back online after disconnect (5/15)
Judge issues pre-trial order in Cobell trust case (5/13)
Bush administration responds to Cobell $58B claim (04/11)
'Rough justice' seen in resolving Cobell case (4/7)
House panel threatens Cobell accounting cut (4/4)
Letter: A small spark of justice in Cobell case (3/31)
Cobell plaintiffs say $58B owed for Indian trust (3/21)
Cobell case set for resolution in court (3/6)
Judge sets June 9 trial to resolve Cobell case (3/5)
Judge to hold Cobell hearing this Wednesday (3/3)
Next hearing in Cobell case set for March 5 (02/21)
Resolution appears near in Cobell trust case (2/19)
Editorial: Settle 'botched' Indian trust fund (02/06)
Editorial: Settle the Indian trust fund lawsuit (2/4)
Kempthorne reiterates $7B Indian trust offer (2/1)
Editorial: A remedy for 'neglect' of Indian trust (2/1)
Cobell: 'Great day in Indian Country' (1/31)
Judge: Cobell historical accounting 'impossible' (1/30)
Cobell statement on historical accounting decision (1/30)
Jim Cason: Historical accounting facts (01/18)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Just Joking: Humor from National Congress of American Indians (3/2)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne family celebrates history (3/2)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Native snipers among world's deadliest (3/2)
Omaha Tribe welcomes denial of rehearing in boundary lawsuit (3/2)
Supreme Court won't hear Stockbridge-Munsee Band land claim (3/2)
Indian tobacco company rebuffed in another dispute with state (3/2)
Jodi Gillette: Administration making progress in Indian Country (3/2)
Kevin Abourezk: Leaders of Winnebago Tribe face recall attempt (3/2)
Aaron Schutt: Alaska Native role in FCC's auction benefits public (3/2)
Steven Newcomb: NMAI should help expose Indian law's bigotry (3/2)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Native sovereignty in a race-based society (3/2)
David Wilkins: Tap into the knowledge and power of our nations (3/2)
Opinion: Native women won't feel safe without action in Canada (3/2)
Indian families in South Dakota battle to keep children at home (3/2)
Marijuana presented as another opportunity for Indian Country (3/2)
Lac Vieux Desert Band relies on revenue from lending business (3/2)
Leader of Kiowa Tribe challenges BIA's intervention in election (3/2)
Cherokee Nation mourns loss of respected journalist John Shurr (3/2)
Pechanga Band to reclaim ancestors and artifacts from military (3/2)
Travel: Ancient culture continues on Hopi Reservation in Arizona (3/2)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe banishes two women after drug arrest (3/2)
Joseph Webster: Tribes assert sovereignty over Class II gaming (3/2)
Tohono O'odham Nation spends $200M on first phase of casino (3/2)
New Mexico lawmakers advance new Class III gaming compact (3/2)
Fort Sill Apache Tribe in court for gaming compact in New Mexico (3/2)
MGM on track to complete $1.2B casino near US Capitol next year (3/2)
Wrapup from National Congress of American Indians DC meeting (2/27)
Native Sun News: Rapid City leader calls for tax on alcohol sales (2/27)
Mark Trahant: Beautiful trend emerges with power of Native vote (2/27)
Ivan Star: Lakota traditional history tells the true untold stories (2/27)
Audio: House Appropriations Committee hearing on BIA budget (2/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on irrigation bill (2/27)
National Indian Gaming Commission choice gets another hearing (2/27)
Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language advocate passes on at age 58 (2/27)
Gyasi Ross: Yawna Allen shares her Native and African ancestry (2/27)
Frank Hopper: Alaska Native Brotherhood was about resistance (2/27)
Stanley Heller: Don't forget the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado (2/27)
Cherokee Nation chief faces at least four challengers in election (2/27)
BIA and DOJ seek to mediate Cayuga Nation leadership dispute (2/27)
Non-Indians guilty for hunting incidents on Montana reservation (2/27)
Man from Te-Moak Tribe pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter (2/27)
Administrator for Alaska tribe cuts her position out of the budget (2/27)
Opinion: Find common ground on Indian mascots in Connecticut (2/27)
Hannahville Indian Community starts $8M casino expansion work (2/27)
Wilton Rancheria still waiting for BIA movement on casino project (2/27)
Lytton Band paid $4.6M to use land as parking for Class II facility (2/27)
Opinion: Menominee Nation might turn to tokers instead of poker (2/27)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks come with slot machines and marijuana (2/27)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meet in DC (2/26)
Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe leader sidelined by council (2/26)
James Giago Davies: Native activism must embrace all relations (2/26)
Donna Ennis: Obama budget supports tribal self-determination (2/26)
Rich Winter: Let's keep Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City (2/26)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.