Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Opinion

Jerilyn DeCoteau: Cobell settlement just doesn't feel right





"Ten Cent Treaty, Le Pay, allotments in Montana, lease checks the neighbors received, Grandpa saying, “I am still waiting for my allotment.” These are words I grew up with.

They were full of import and mystery, and stood for things eternal. I heard the grown ups say them, talk about what they stood for, speak of them as in the very distant past, in the future and very far away, but never as here and now.

The proposed Cobell settlement has brought allotments and lease money issues to the forefront. And, although the waiting is over, I could not stop myself from opting out of the settlement.

On one level, it doesn’t matter much because there is little money in my trust account, meaning my grandmother’s allotment was either not worth much or was leased for far below its value. Or possibly oil was drained and we were never told. How would we know? We never saw the land; the allotment is 300 miles from home.

Exactly what happened to her allotment is what the litigation called Cobell was supposed to determine, or so I thought. But, after 12 years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent I know little more now than I did before. My decision to opt out rests in good part on what I still don’t know. Besides, as my mother told me, if it doesn’t feel right in your gut, then don’t do it. This settlement just doesn’t feel right."

Get the Story:
Jerilyn DeCoteau: Why I Opted Out of the Cobell Settlement (Indian Country Today 6/4)

Related Stories:
Fairness hearing in Cobell settlement scheduled for June 20 (5/26)