Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Cobell | Opinion
Editorial: Time running out for Senate to act on Cobell settlement


"Time is running out for the Senate to step up and do right by the American Indians whose money and land were mismanaged by the federal government for more than a century.

At issue is a proposed $3.4 billion settlement of a 14-year-old legal battle in which Indians alleged the government illegally withheld some $150 billion in royalties from them.

The House has approved the settlement, but it remains stalled in the Senate, even as a court-imposed deadline of Oct. 15 looms.

The problems stem from the 1880s, when the federal government took Indian land to lease some of it to companies looking for sources of timber, oil, grazing lands and minerals. To this day, the Interior Department manages some 56 million acres of trust lands for Indians.

Some of the land taken in the 1880s went into an allotment system. The government employed a land division method that cut large swaths of Indian land into parcels ranging in size from 40 to 160 acres, and assigned those parcels to individual Indians. The government collected royalties on behalf of those Indians, and distributed the money to them.

However, as original owners died, part ownership in those plots passed through successive generations resulting in highly fractionalized ownership."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Push ahead on Indian claims (The Denver Post 9/18)

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

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