Hall says tribes 'at the table' in Cobell case
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MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2003

The leader of the nation's largest inter-tribal organization said tribes will be "at the table" in the ongoing Cobell Indian trust fund lawsuit.

Although not a party to the litigation, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) submitted an amicus brief in the case. President Tex Hall was pleased that it was accepted by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth last week.

"The acceptance by the judge means that the tribes' interest will be heard," Hall said.

The tribes cited a number of concerns not just with the Department of Interior's trust reform efforts but also suggestions by the Cobell plaintiffs, including a request to separate of tribal trust assets from those owned by individuals. "It's one system but there's two beneficiaries: the tribes and the individuals," Hall, who is also an account holder, said. "Clearly, there's some joint ownership."

Lamberth, in accepting the brief, noted that NCAI, which represents more than 200 tribes, had unique and important views to consider.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs were supportive of the NCAI brief. The Bush administration opposed it.

In addition to the Cobell suit, Lamberth is overseeing several tribal trust cases. He accepted them last July over the objections of attorneys for Secretary of Interior Gale Norton.

In total, there are nearly 20 tribal trust cases in federal courts across the country. All are modeled after the Cobell case.

Get the Decision:
Order Granting Leave to National Congress of American Indians to file Amicus Brief; Denying Leave to Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma (March 3, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -

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