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Cobell | Opinion
Kimberly Craven: Transparency needed for trust settlement


"Like many of the 384,000 federally recognized tribal members who are certified members of the class-action lawsuit Cobell v. Salazar, I was pleased when I learned the Obama administration and the four named plaintiffs had reached a settlement in December.

But after a careful reading of the full settlement, I am disappointed and outspoken in my efforts to educate Indian Country about its ramifications ["Senator solicits input on Indian trust settlement," News, April 27]. As the adage goes, the devil is in the details of what the plaintiffs have agreed to in exchange for settling their 14-year-old lawsuit.

I see three key issues that must be resolved before the settlement is approved by Congress and sent back to the court.

First, the plaintiffs have agreed to the administration's request to create a totally new class of plaintiffs to extinguish claims that are entirely outside the scope of the current litigation. The new class, for $500 plus a formula amount, is asked to forever extinguish all their claims for the past mismanagement of their land and its resources — timber, water, grazing or other economic use. The Cobell suit was filed in a Court of Equity that could order a historical accounting as a remedy but it was not a court that could award monetary damages. Yet here we are being offered $3.4 billion dollars?"

Get the Story:
Kimberly Craven: Cobell settlement on Indian claims needs Senate scrutiny for benefit of plaintiffs (The Seattle Times 5/13)

Relevant Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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