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DOI announces transfer of nearly $580K for Cobell scholarships

The Interior Department is making its first transfer to the scholarship fund that was established by the Cobell trust fund settlement.

The department is transferring nearly $580,000 to the fund. The money comes from a portion of sales made under the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

“The Scholarship Fund is an important tool to help students across Indian Country pursue higher education opportunities imperative to their success in the workplace and to the creation of the next generation of Indian leaders,” Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation, said in a press release. “While there was much debate in the settlement negotiations, there was no debate among the parties that we must do something to support Indian students in their aspirations and dreams.”

DOI will make quarterly transfers to the fund, which is being administered by the American Indian College Fund. A board of five members will oversee the disbursement of scholarships to Indian students.

“We are honored to remember the vision of Elouise Cobell that the Cobell Scholarship Fund would be used to lift up tribal students and their families,” Cheryl Crazy Bull, the president and CEO of AICF, said in the press release.

The settlement authorizes $1.9 billion for land consolidation. A maximum of $60 million will be deposited into the scholarship fund.

So far, DOI has extended more than $100 million in offers, primarily to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, both in South Dakota. Some $10 million has already been accepted by landowners.

Any interests that are acquired are returned to their respective tribal governments.

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Members of Oglala Sioux Tribe respond to Cobell buyback offers (3/28)

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