Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell | Opinion
Kimberly Craven: Obama not transparent on Cobell settlement


"Like many Native people, I campaigned for President Barack Obama, did voter registration, and maxed out in my campaign contributions. I anticipated an administration that was transparent and open. Instead, as a member of the Cobell class action lawsuit, I’ve experience exactly the opposite. It raises questions in my mind that one of the lawyers, while representing us and negotiating the settlement, was part of the Obama campaign committee, Obama Transition Team and posted pictures on his Facebook page of him attending the White House Christmas party in December 2009.

Recently, it became public information that our attorney is rumored to be being vetted for a 10th Circuit Court of Appeal position. Nice reward for all of his efforts, not to mention that he is one of the seven attorneys to share in the $100 million proposed attorney fees. Ironically enough, a precise accounting of the Cobell attorney billing hours is not required for payment.

The administration’s claim that any changes by Congress will make the settlement null and void seems to be disingenuous and arbitrary. American Indians and tribes rely on Congress to watch out for our interests as a trustee. Let’s extend the promise of transparency and openness to all members of the class and demand Congress consider the various points of view throughout Indian Country. A recently passed National Congress of American Indians' resolutions overwhelmingly called for immediate passage of the proposed settlement with the caveat of changes being made to the settlement. I have been urging, like many others have, for stand-alone legislation to be introduced accompanied by several field hearings so that Indian people might be fully informed about the proposed settlement implications.

My biggest problem with the proposed settlement is that it agrees to settle claims which were never part of the litigation to the tune of over $3 billion, with the majority of the funds going to the very entity accused of causing the harm -- the federal government."

Get the Story:
Kimberly Craven: Barrasso listened to Indian Country (The Casper Star-Tribune 7/4)

Cobell Settlement Documents:
Agreement | Press Release | Q&A | Audio

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