Column: Navajo woman helped settle Cobell case
"Health reform, economic recovery, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — President Obama has had his challenges and taken his share of lumps.

But the Indian trust settlement was something no president in 14 years has even come close to, and it didn't just happen on Obama's watch. It came about because of a change in attitude in the Oval Office and a direct assignment from the president to get it done.

One of the people Obama tapped to bring it home was Hilary Tompkins, his new solicitor at Interior. Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation from New Mexico, is the first American Indian to hold that job.

Maybe her being Navajo made a difference at the negotiating table. It was probably a combination of that and the same intelligence and tact and humor she showed during the years she served in state government here.

Tompkins was joined in the negotiations by the No. 2s at Interior and Justice. They started talks early in the summer and in the past two to three weeks had been spending very long days in negotiations seven days a week.

"There were times when it seemed that we may not get to the finish line," Tompkins said. "It wasn't easy.""

Get the Story:
Leslie Linthicum: Long-Fought Suit Comes to an End (The Albuquerque Journal 12/13)

Relevant Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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