Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Editorial: Spend tribal and Cobell trust fund settlements wisely





"Forty-one tribes, and thousands of individual Native Americans, must soon decide what to do with the proceeds from two legal settlements negotiated with a federal government that over decades was even more careless with their community and personal resources than it is with those of all Americans today.

The tribes will split $1 billion, and as many as 500,000 individuals will share another $3.4 billion due them because the federal government, acting as trustee for assets such as mining and oil claims, timber and grazing rights, cannot account for lease and other payments going as far back as the 19th century. The mismanagement was all too characteristic of federal attention to the obligations it assumed as treaties were negotiated to end the Indian Wars that swept the tribes from their traditional homelands or confined them to a fraction of their former domains.

Individual claims are expected to be resolved for about $1,800. Some may receive more. That case was filed against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his predecessors by the courageous Elouise Cobell, a rancher and Blackfeet Tribe official who died of cancer last fall."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Spend tribes settlement with an eye on future (The Spokesman Review 6/6)