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Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment'

"A group of American Indian leaders gathered in Washington on Monday to unveil a set of principles that provide a framework for settling a 9-year-old class action suit and ending a century-old national embarrassment. The framework, which also provides guidance to the federal government as it attempts to reform its trust-accounting process, is a fair one, and Congress would be wise to jump at the opportunity to fix this mess.

At issue are individual trust accounts set up by the federal government to collect and disburse money collected from the sale of resources on the Indian account-holders' lands. The accounts are in such disarray that the federal government can't tell account-holders how much money has been collected in their names and how much money remains in the 'bank' awaiting distribution. Estimates of the sum of missing and unaccounted-for money stretching back 125 years range from about $14 billion to the hundreds of billions. There is a good reason why some wags call the BIA � the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs � 'Billions in Invisible Assets.'"

Get the Story:
Righting a historic wrong (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 6/21)

Relevant Documents:
Trust Reform and Cobell Settlement Workgroup Principles for Legislation (June 2005)

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians -
Intertribal Trust Fund Monitoring Association -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
Senate Indian Affairs Committee -

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