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Cobell: Lawsuit more than a question of dollars

"When U.S. District Judge James Robertson agreed to issue an order that will speed our appeal in the long-running Indian Trust lawsuit, he suggested our action is largely dictated by concerns over the $455.6 million which he says the federal government owes trust beneficiaries.

''What the plaintiffs are most exorcised about is that this dollar [amount] has two fewer zeros than they wanted and one fewer than they really thought they were entitled to...,'' he declared during an Aug. 28 hearing.

He is partly right. Our case has always been about the money of Indian beneficiaries and how the federal government has treated some of the poorest people in this country. But it has mainly been about accountability - the accountability of our Trustee.

From the filing of our lawsuit in 1996 to today, we have been clear that our aim is to right one of the biggest wrongs ever committed against Native people by the federal government.

But there is much more than the dollar amount that is upsetting about the judge's Aug 7 order. It is how he reached his dollar figure and how he has rejected key tenets in the cherished trust relationship between Indians and the federal government."

Get the Story:
Elouise Cobell: More than a question of dollars (Indian Country Today 9/8)

Certification for Appeal:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (September 4, 2008)

Historical Accounting Decision:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (August 7, 2008)

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