Shoshone-Bannock landowner not optimistic on trust reform at DOI

Ernestine Werelus, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, doesn't think Indian landowners should "get too excited" about trust reform efforts at the Interior Department.

Werelus started the Fort Hall Landowners Alliance to address trust management issues on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho. She was a witness in the Indian trust fund lawsuit, which was settled for $3.4 billion last year.

“It’s a long-standing, bittersweet settlement and I don’t know that the people here are really going to see a lot of benefit from it, or if the government’s going to shape up, so to speak, to do a better job,” Werelus told The Idaho State Journal. “I wouldn’t get too excited.”

As part of the settlement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will establish a Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. The commission will take two years to evaluate current trust reform activities and make recommendations for the future.

The five members of the commission can be appointed now that Congress enacted the settlement.

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Settlement money may not be distributed soon (The Idaho State Journal 1/3)

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

Relevant Documents:
Elouise Cobell | President Obama | DOJ/DOI/USDA | Roll Call
NCAI | Sen. Dorgan | Sen. Baucus | Rep. Cole | Rep. Pallone

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