Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Elouise Cobell provides update for trust fund settlement process

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the Indian trust fund lawsuit, will be answering questions about the proposed settlement to the case. Cobell is a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana.

Dear Indian Country

This is the seventeenth letter in a series of open letters that I’m sending to Indian Country. The purpose of this letter is to update you about the settlement.

On December 21, 2010, the district court granted preliminary approval for the settlement and approved the plan to provide notice to the class. “Notice” is how members of a class are informed about their rights and obligations when a class action case settles. This is a necessary first step that must be taken before funds may be sent to class members in a case that has settled.

The judge’s preliminary approval order establishes a number of important deadlines. The notice period starts on January 20, 2011. This is the date that the long form notice will commence to be sent to all class members with valid addresses that are maintained by the Department of the Interior and an extensive media campaign will start. Notices will be published in newspapers and magazines and they will be aired on television and radio in Indian Country and in other areas of the country where many class members live. We will also begin an extensive series of meetings around Indian Country to explain the settlement and answer your questions.

If you do not receive a long form notice in the mail, you can request that one be sent to you by going to this website or by calling this toll-free number:

Telephone: 1-800-961-6109

The judge also has said that if you wish to opt-out of, or object to, the settlement, you should do so by April 20, 2011. Instructions on how to opt-out or object will be included in the long form notice.

Finally, if you wish to appear at the fairness hearing and explain your objections personally to the Court, you should review the long form notice for instructions on how to do so. The judge has scheduled the fairness hearing for June 20, 2011. Any of the dates discussed above may change as ordered by the Court.

Prior Ask Elouise letters can be found on the settlement website:

We also have a "frequently asked questions" section to answer the most common questions we've received:

With so many members of the class, I can’t answer every question that you send. The Ask Elouise letters will answer as many questions as possible that are relevant to the entire class.

The most common question I receive every week relates to whether someone is included in this settlement. Unfortunately, I do not have that information. The settlement agreement provides general guidelines (see also, but I also understand that many of you have unique or unusual circumstances, which make it unclear to me whether you are included in the settlement class. For those of you who still have questions, I recommend that you register to receive all Court-ordered communications to ensure you do not miss important information. There is no need to register if you are receiving a quarterly IIM statement. The Court ultimately will determine who is included in this settlement. Registration information can be found at the end of this and every Ask Elouise letter.

If you are not currently receiving an IIM statement from the government, please remember to register for correspondence over the Internet or by calling the number below.

Telephone: 1-800-961-6109

If you have a question, send an e-mail to: Otherwise you can send me a letter to the address below. To expedite the processing of your letters our contractor has set up a post office box in Ohio, but I assure you this letter is coming from me and I will see your letters.

Ask Elouise
Cobell Settlement
PO Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877

Thank you and keep your questions coming!

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

Relevant Documents:
Elouise Cobell | President Obama | DOJ/DOI/USDA | Roll Call
NCAI | Sen. Dorgan | Sen. Baucus | Rep. Cole | Rep. Pallone

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