indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Osage Nation wins major trust fund ruling
Monday, September 25, 2006

The Osage Nation hailed victory on Friday after a federal judge ruled the tribe is owed potentially billions for the mismanagement of trust assets.

The tribe's reservation, created by an act of Congress in 1906, has been one of the top oil-producing regions in the nation. But tribal members who share ownership in mineral rights say up to $2.5 billion was squandered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In a 61-page decision released Thursday afternoon, a judge in Washington, D.C. largely agreed. Judge Emily C. Hewitt of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims said the federal government breached its fiduciary duties to the tribe and its members, known as headright owners.

"[T]he court finds that the Osage Tribe is entitled to compensation for the following breaches of defendant's fiduciary duties," Hewitt wrote, outlining five specific breaches: failure to collect royalties based on the highest offered price; failure to collect full royalties during price controls; failure to deposit trust funds promptly due to an unreasonable failure to certify a federal depositary; failure to maintain appropriate cash balances; and failure to obtain investment yields in accordance with law.

Hewitt ordered the tribe and the Department of Justice to "jointly calculate" a damage award by November 2. If they can't agree, the two parties can submit their own figures, the ruling stated.

Back in Oklahoma, tribal leaders celebrated after learning of the decision. "This finding is a long time in coming," Chief Jim Gray said in a statement.

"The Osage Nation government filed this case six years ago, and our people and the shareholders in the royalties of the Osage Mineral Estate have waited for justice for many years, just as American Indians across the country have been waiting for justice in their trust cases for many years," Gray said.

The Osage claim is separate from the more than two dozen trust fund lawsuits that have been filed by tribes. It's also different from the Cobell lawsuit over Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts.

But many of the underlying issues are the same. Tribes and individual Indians say the federal government has failed to live up to its duties as a trustee for more than 100 years.

The Clinton and Bush administrations have rejected the allegations and have attempted to have the lawsuits thrown out of court. The campaign ramped up during the Bush administration, which took two significant tribal trust cases to the U.S. Supreme Court and has appealed every single adverse ruling in the Cobell case.

In almost every respect, the government has lost on legal grounds. The courts have consistently ruled that tribes and individual Indians are entitled to an accounting of "all funds" in their accounts.

The Osages have won a series of crucial rulings before the Court of Claims. Hewitt has rejected attempts to deny the tribe an accounting all the way back to 1906, the year the mineral trust was created.

The Osages, like other tribes, were presented with a "reconciliation" report by the former Arthur Andersen accounting firm. The report stated that the BIA couldn't account for at least $791,046.37 in trust funds covering the period 1972 to 1992.

The actual figure would be much higher, based on the inception of the trust in 1960 and the interest owed on improperly handled trust funds. Gray, however, said it would be "irresponsible" to speculate on the exact amount until the court can hold further proceedings.

Hewitt has been handling several trust fund cases. One of the most notable involves the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe, both of Wyoming. Hewitt has ruled in the tribes' favor several times, resulting in the return of millions.

In February, Hewitt ruled in favor of four Chippewa tribes who say the government mismanaged a $52 million trust fund. Their case was filed 14 years ago.

Court Decision:
Nation v. US (September 21, 2006)

Earlier Decision:
Osage Nation v. US (July 28, 2003)

Related Documents:
S.1857 | Senate Report 107-138 | Senate Testimony | House Debate

Relevant Links:
Osage Nation - http://www.osagetribe.com

Related Stories:
Osage Nation trust suit survives first test (07/31)
Judge upholds ongoing trust relationship (04/29)
Bush strategy assumes no trust mismanagement (11/05)
Andersen reports cited in tribal trust cases (08/12)
Norton handed worst nightmare (7/25)
Trust accounting looms for tribes (3/20)
Bush administration bets on accounting (3/18)
GAO: Full reconciliation impossible (2/8)

Copyright 2000-2006 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:
Native Sun News: Oglala leader blames deaths on domestic violence (7/6)
Lakota Country Times: Native youth work on drama and filmmaking (7/6)
James Giago Davies: The things that really matter to Lakota people (7/6)
Alray Nelson: Navajo Nation must stand up for marriage equality (7/6)
Terese Mailhot: Get your Disney princesses out of Indian Country (7/6)
Alex Jacobs: Genocide and slavery aren't taught in our classrooms (7/6)
Gregory Smithers: Cherokee Nation gave up Confederate imagery (7/6)
Duane Champagne: Tribes willing to adapt without losing identity (7/6)
Editorial: A woman belongs on $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson (7/6)
Native Sun News: Deadly storm hits Crow Creek Sioux Reservation (7/3)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud youth hold suicide awareness walk (7/3)
Delphine Red Shirt: Speak the Lakota language to carry on culture (7/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules trust reform hearing (7/3)
Chumash Tribe wins dismissal of suit over status of reservation (7/3)
Four groups in Oklahoma seeking federal recognition through BIA (7/3)
Little Shell Chippewa Tribe welcomes federal recognition reforms (7/3)
Leader of Duwamish Tribe calls denial of recognition 'devastating' (7/3)
Editorial: Other tribes in Virginia deserve federal recognition too (7/3)
Ojibwe hockey star excited for transfer to team in nation's capital (7/3)
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe wants sacred rock on national register (7/3)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe won't give up on wind energy despite delays (7/3)
Catawba Nation fought against British during Revolutionary War (7/3)
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho revives powwow after 15-year absence (7/3)
Taos Pueblo man sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing (7/3)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe sentenced for clash at casino (7/3)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility (7/3)
Tohono O'odham Nation faces state in court in new casino lawsuit (7/3)
Cherokee Nation to open hotel at $80M casino near Arkansas in fall (7/3)
Brian Pierson: Tribal labor sovereignty could land in Supreme Court (7/3)
Pierre Bergeron: Judges split on federal labor law at tribal casinos (7/3)
Native Sun News: Lakota riders complete journey to Little Bighorn (7/2)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home top honors at NAJA (7/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Delivering stories that matter to Indian Country (7/2)
Ivan Star: Creating a culturally appropriate economy at Pine Ridge (7/2)
Elizabeth Hawksworth: Being patriotic and being Native in Canada (7/2)
Micah A: Blood quantum does not make me any less of an Indian (7/2)
David Shorter: Learning not to speak on behalf of Native peoples (7/2)
Marc Simmons: Legend of Catholic priest saved by grateful tribe (7/2)
Sen. McCain deemed responsible for land swap at sacred Oak Flat (7/2)
A Tribe Called Red releases free remix of Buffy Sainte-Marie track (7/2)
Pamunkey Tribe wins final federal recognition decision from BIA (7/2)
Duwamish Tribe rejected for federal recognition for a third time (7/2)
BIA accused of blocking road access on New Mexico reservation (7/2)
Chippewa Cree Tribe elects Ken St. Marks as chair for fourth time (7/2)
Mississippi Choctaw leader comes out on top in unofficial results (7/2)
Bois Forte Band grows economy with second Tim Hortons Cafe (7/2)
Chickasaw Nation hails selection of permanent Indian law chair (7/2)
Editorial: Gila River Indian Community to blame for highway path (7/2)
Cow Creek Band continues to oppose new Coquille Tribe casino (7/2)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes renovate casino resort (7/2)
Four more tribes in New Mexico enter Class III gaming compact (7/2)
Editorial: Pojoaque Pueblo gets pass on illegal gaming operation (7/2)
Save Oak Flat caravan plans journey to DC to protect sacred site (7/1)
Court reluctantly backs NLRB in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe dispute (7/1)
Native Sun News: Opposition grows to delisting of grizzly bears (7/1)
Lakota Country Times: Reservation counties rank as deadliest (7/1)
Steve Russell: Professor outed as Cherokee fraud once again (7/1)
Harlan McKosato: Indian people survive despite mistreatment (7/1)
Marshall Matz: Fight for $380M in Keepseagle funds continues (7/1)
BIA acquires former military site in trust for Ho-Chunk Nation (7/1)
Appropriations bill adds $10M for tribal courts in PL280 states (7/1)
Sen. Murkowski questions definition of 'Indian' for health care (7/1)
South Dakota board won't back name change for sacred peak (7/1)
Fort Peck Tribes take on cost for homes promised by Brad Pitt (7/1)
Hoopa Valley Tribe orders water restrictions as tanks run dry (7/1)
Cherokee Nation certifies results of election for top positions (7/1)
Secretary Sally Jewell reaffirms opposition to racist mascots (7/1)
Virginia tribes hindered by racist policies created by one man (7/1)
Column: Native Code Talkers defended nation with languages (7/1)
Guilty plea for stabbing of BIA superintendent in South Dakota (7/1)
Opposition group rallies over Miccosukee Tribe land-into-trust (7/1)
Pojoaque Pueblo keeps casino open after gaming deal expires (7/1)
Court allows lawsuit for incident at Tonto Apache Tribe casino (7/1)
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.