Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement

Salazar urges quick work for Cobell trust reform commission





The National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform met for the first time today and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urged its members to work quickly.

The commission was created by the $3.4 billion settlement to the Indian trust fund lawsuit. Its members will evaluate trust reform efforts at the Interior Department and deliver a report within two years.

However, Salazar said two years is too long to wait. He noted that appeals have already delayed distribution of the settlement, which was approved by Congress in December 2010.

"I'm a little concerned about the time frame," Salazar said this morning in Washington, D.C.

"I frankly don't know what's going to happen in November," he said, referring to the presidential election later this year.

"If we can get it done sooner, then let's get it done sooner," Salazar told members of the commission.

The commission is meeting today and tomorrow. Future meetings are in the works between March and December of this year.

"We know that there's been decades of work in trust reform," observed Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Nation of Washington who serves as chair of the commission.

Sharp said one of her goals for the first meeting is to develop a communications plan to keep Indian Country informed.

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