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Opinion: Checks from Cobell settlement finally start rolling out

Filed Under: Cobell | Opinion
More on: elouise cobell, john boyd
   

"This week, more than 400,000 Native Americans from numerous tribal groups will receive $1,000 checks -- just in time for Christmas. These court-ordered payments from the federal government will begin to settle a landmark $3.4 billion class action lawsuit.

The suit, Cobell v. Salazar, was one of the largest class actions ever filed against the United States. It charged that as far back as the 1880s the government mismanaged money owed to Native Americans. These trust funds were collected from farming and grazing leases, timber sales, mining, and oil and gas production from land owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Sadly, Elouise Cobell, a member of the Montana Blackfeet who was the lead plaintiff in the 1996 lawsuit will not be among those receiving the checks. She died last year of cancer-related complications, before ever seeing the fruits of her labors. In fact, the settlement was prompted by recognition that "large numbers" of the affected Native Americans live in poverty and many are elderly and dying.

The Native Americans' case had many similarities to our decade-long battle to claim justice for millions of black farmers who had been wronged in the denial of farm loans and other federal mishandling. It is as complicated as the black farmers' $1.25 billion settlement. Both cases required an Act of Congress to fund the court settlement -- and they were intertwined."

Get the Story:
John W. Boyd Jr.: Native Americans Receive Settlement Funds This Week (The Huffington Post 12/20)

Relevant Documents:
Cobell v. Salazar (December 11, 2012)

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