your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Hearing brings little resolve to Cobell lawsuit
Friday, December 9, 2005

Indianz.Com Listening Lounge, House Resources Committee hearing on Cobell v. Norton, December 8, 2005.

Chairman Pombo, Ranking Member Rahall:
Introduction - 6:34 - 1.50MB

Panel I:
James Cason
Associate Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
Testimony - 5:03 - 1.15MB | Q&A - 59:02 - 13.5MB

Panel II:
Elouise Cobell - PDF: Testimony
Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund, Browning, Montana
Testimony - 18:02 - 4.12MB | Q&A - 22:40 - 5.18MB
The House Resources Committee held a hearing on Thursday on legislation to settle the Cobell v. Norton trust fund lawsuit but both sides remained far apart on a potential dollar amount.

Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary at the Interior Department, called a proposed settlement in the billions outlandish. He said the Bush administration has spent more than $100 million to amass "substantial evidence" that shows individual Indians haven't been cheated out of oil, gas and other royalties.

"Today it's abundantly clear that the plaintiffs' public claim that $176 billion is owed is vastly overstated, to say the least," Cason told the panel.

This past June, a coalition that includes the Cobell plaintiffs, tribes and major Indian organization, proposed to settle the case for $27.5 billion. Cason derided the amount as unjustified, based on the historical accounting work that has taken place so far.

"This figure, too, is based on assumptions that available evidence simply does not support," Cason testified.

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, defended the settlement proposal. She said the figure was a "bargain" because it assumes the federal government paid out 80 percent of the oil, gas and other revenues generated on Indian land since 1887.

"They can't account for 99 percent of the transactions," Cobell said, citing an accounting report that was based on the accounts of the five-named plaintiffs in the lawsuit and their ancestors. "But we gave them the benefit of the doubt of 80 percent."

Cobell said the government won't be able to complete a true historical accounting due to missing records, destroyed documents and inaccurate information in the government's computer systems. "There are so many documents that are destroyed, it's impossible," she testified. "And we've known its been impossible to do an accounting. So you take an alternative method of accounting, and that's what we did."

The plaintiffs and the Bush administration agree only on one figure. Both sides say that $13 billion has passed through the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust accounts since the early 1900s.

"So there is agreement on how much money should have gone in," Rep. Richard Pombo (R-California), the chairman of the committee said. "There's no agreement on how much was actually paid."

"Nobody knows what they paid," Cobell added. "No one knows what they paid."

Last month, Pombo introduced H.R. 4322, the Indian Trust Reform Act of 2005. The co-sponsor is Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the ranking Democrat on the committee.

"The animosity between the parties is as bad as any I've ever seen," Rahall said in his opening statement yesterday. "While each side tries desperately to get the other side to bend to its will, the Indian accounts holders still have not gotten a true accounting and I've come to believe they never will."

The legislation would settle the historical accounting portion of the lawsuit. But the dollar amount is left blank and Pombo described the package as a "work on progress."

"Right know, we don't have enough information on how many legitimate claimants there are, how much they would get per claimant, what is the total cost of the bill," said Rep. John Duncan (R-Tennessee). "The bill as you said is a work in progress, but it contains more blanks than any bill I've ever seen,"

The Senate version of the bill is S.1439. It was introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Both bills would eliminate the Office of Special Trustee, create a deputy secretary position to oversee Indian affairs, establish an Indian Trust Asset Management Policy Review Commission and authorize a new land consolidation program. The Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project, created for a handful of tribes a couple of years ago, would be expanded to more tribes.

Historical Accounting Decision:
Cobell v. Norton (November 15, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
National Congress of American Indians -
Intertribal Trust Fund Monitoring Association -

Related Stories:
Audio: House Resources hearing on Cobell (12/8)
House Resources to hold hearing on Cobell (12/5)
Elouise Cobell: Lamberth frustrated with DOI (11/28)
Judge Lamberth, the cowboy, sides with Indians (11/28)
Editorial: Settle Cobell trust fund lawsuit (11/25)
Cobell to press Interior on accounting mess (11/22)
Cobell says government not off the hook on trust fund (11/21)
Broad accounting of Indian trust fund blocked (11/16)
Battle over Cobell trust fund case heats up (10/24)
Interior ordered to protect Indian trust fund systems(10/21)
Lamberth issues new IT shutdown injunction (10/20)
Interior warned of computer security risks again (09/30)
Bush calls for new judge in Cobell v. Norton case (08/16)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (7/29)
DOI mum on settlement figure for Cobell v. Norton (7/27)
Indian leaders to pledge support on trust reform (7/26)
Listening Lounge: Senate hearing on Cobell (7/26)
Cobell calls trust reform bill a win for Interior (7/22)
McCain and Dorgan introduce trust reform legislation (7/22)
Opinion: Keep open mind on Cobell settlement (7/19)
McCain plans hearing on Cobell settlement, reform (7/14)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Controversy brews as House takes up Native American Energy Act (10/6)
Native Sun News: Crow Tribe leader advises Rep. Zinke on energy (10/6)
Lakota Country Times: Program for Native students closes down (10/6)
Mark Trahant: Far too many missing and murdered Native women (10/6)
Alfred Walking Bull: Let's open up about suicide in Indian Country (10/6)
Raina Thiele: Alaska Natives share culture with President Obama (10/6)
Mary Pember: Fashion show tackles trafficking in Indian Country (10/6)
Torivio Fodder: Pope Francis ignores sins of Indian mission era (10/6)
Sac and Fox Nation disappointed by denial of Jim Thorpe case (10/6)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe expects big crowd for pot kickoff (10/6)
Colville Tribes pass resolution for small amounts of marijuana (10/6)
Disaster declaration covers Catawba Nation in South Carolina (10/6)
Leader of Comanche Nation disputes removal of administrator (10/6)
Osage Nation accuses former employee of adding non-Indians (10/6)
Donald Trump doesn't think NFL team's racist name should go (10/6)
Supreme Court declines to hear appeals in two gaming cases (10/6)
San Pasqual Band loses claim for damages in gaming dispute (10/6)
New Eastern Cherokee chief takes aim at gaming commission (10/6)
Chemehuevi Tribe hosts public hearing for new gaming facility (10/6)
Little Traverse Bay Bands consider Class II for second casino (10/6)
Supreme Court rejects petitions in four more Indian law cases (10/5)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee weighs seven bills at hearing (10/5)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules business meeting (10/5)
Secretary Jewell heads to Oklahoma for tribal trust settlement (10/5)
IHS reopens comment period for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (10/5)
BIA backs extension of Rosebud Sioux Tribe gaming compact (10/5)
Native Sun News: Code Talker medals seen in traveling exhibit (10/5)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe and FEMA cooperate (10/5)
James Giago Davies: Don't let dominant culture dumb us down (10/5)
Vi Waln: Domestic violence comes in many forms on reservation (10/5)
Gyasi Ross: Republicans play games with Native women's rights (10/5)
Rosanna Deerchild: A terrifying reality facing indigenous women (10/5)
Steve Russell: Indians met Christianity at its most violent phase (10/5)
Alex Jacobs: Pope Francis honors symbol of genocide in America (10/5)
Joseph Hamilton: Tribal leaders must talk about disenrollments (10/5)
Tara Houska: Horror film treats Native peoples as relics of past (10/5)
Cow Creek Band employee lost son in deadly shooting in Oregon (10/5)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe fully booked for launch of pot resort (10/5)
Chukchansi Tribe picks leaders and hires gaming commissioners (10/5)
Cowlitz Tribe turned down Donald Trump for gaming partnership (10/5)
Eastern Cherokees see tangible benefits from gaming enterprise (10/5)
Navajo Nation to offer housing for employees of casino in Arizona (10/5)
Poarch Creeks lose ruling over slot machines at Florida racetrack (10/5)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.