Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell
Cobell criticizes Barrasso for trying to 'kill' trust settlement


Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the Indian trust fund lawsuit, said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, is trying to "kill" the $3.4 billion settlement to the case.

Cobell slammed Barrasso for sending a letter to Indian Country that proposed changes to the deal. She said the terms of the settlement can't be reopened.

"I took it as a letter to try and divide and conquer -- to divide the tribal leadership against the individual Indians," Cobell said on Montana Public Radio.

Cobell's legal team met with Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in March to discuss the settlement. She said tribal members there support the deal "one hundred percent."

"They signed a petition," Cobell said of tribal members on the Wind River Reservation. "So he's certainly not representing the Indian constituents from Wyoming," she said of Barrasso.

"I think he wants to kill it. Coming out with a letter like that would kill it," Cobell added.

Cobell met with Barrasso to discuss his concerns about the settlement, including a provision to pay up to $100 million to the attorneys who litigated the case since 1996. She said Barrasso didn't object at the time to the amount, which he is proposing to cap at $50 million.

"But I got to tell you, people don't tell the truth in Congress," Cobell said.

Judge James Robertson has twice extended a deadline for Congress to approve the settlement but said he won't wait much longer. The new deadline is the end of this month.

"If we don't get it approved by May 28, then it's just not going to happen," Cobell said.

The segment on the Cobell settlement starts around 12:24 into the broadcast.

Get the Story:
Montana Evening Edition (Montana Public Radio 4/30)

Relevant Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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