Editorial: Indians in Montana benefit from claims settlement bill
"The U.S. Senate took Montanans by surprise by unanimously approving legislation on Nov. 19 to address historic government mismanagement claims by American Indians and water rights on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The state of Montana and the Crow Tribe negotiated a similar water rights compact 11 years ago.

The American Indian accounting case was filed 14 years ago in U.S. District Court. A settlement agreement between the Obama administration and the plaintiffs, led by Elouise Cobell, a Browning woman and member of the Blackfeet Tribe, was reached in December 2009. The U.S. House twice passed the agreement by attaching it to larger bills that were stalled by Senate filibusters.

“In this environment, with the difficult elections we just had, most people would have thought this would have been impossible,” Dennis M. Gingold, Cobell's attorney, told The Washington Post.

The settlement provides that the U.S. government would set up a fund of $1.4 billion to compensate about 500,000 American Indians for claims on Individual Indian Money accounts.

The Department of Interior estimates that more than 33,600 beneficiaries in Montana would receive $87.1 million."

Get the Story:
Gazette opinion: Montana would benefit from Senate Indian bill (The Billings Gazette 11/28)

Also Today:
Cobell American Indian settlement awaits action by House (The Billings Gazette 11/26)
Crow leader relieved water bill cleared Senate (The Billings Gazette 11/26)

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

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