Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell | Opinion
Editorial: House must take action to pass the Cobell settlement


"As Congress returns Monday from its Thanksgiving recess, the U.S. House must pass legislation that settles a lengthy legal battle over the federal government's wretched handling of Indian trust accounts.

The U.S. Senate was understandably proud of its unanimous endorsement of the settlement on Nov. 19. In years past, the House approved legislation only to see it die in the Senate.

The Cobell Settlement Agreement takes its name from lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, of Montana's Blackfeet Tribe. She and four others brought the first suit to challenge the federal government's abject failure to record or account for billions of dollars in fees and royalties on reservation land.

The scale of the failure in dollars and cents, and management malfeasance, guaranteed a nasty fight, and yielded one. Years of bitter litigation uncovered evidence of the government destroying records to hide its shameful performance.

Along the way, a secretary of the interior was found guilty of contempt, a presiding judge was removed from the case and a court-appointed administrator quit in disgust over what he found."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Pass the Cobell settlement agreement (The Seattle Times 11/25)

Cobell Settlement Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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