indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: Sorting out Cobell and Salazar settlements

Filed Under: Cobell | National | Trust
More on: bia, doi, native sun news, per caps, south dakota
     

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


Cutline: Tex Hall, left, with Elouise Cobell on Capitol Hill in 2002. The group was attending a meeting of the House Resources Committee on the Indian trust.

Sorting out Cobell and Salazar settlements
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY- The recent rash of unprecedented payouts from different lawsuit settlements in Indian country has brought about more confusion than the economic relief and sense of justice anticipated.

In a recent phone call to Native Sun News, Lakota elder, Marie Conroy Lange, expressed her concerns about what she had mistakenly thought was federal funding coming to the Pine Ridge Reservation. In fact the money she was referring to was the Cobell and Salazar payments made to individuals and also to the tribes.

“I misunderstood what was going on, and I kind of called people and chewed them out because of it,” said Lange. “I’m a very vocal person so I think I owe an apology to those I talked to.”

Lange’s confusion is not uncommon. Many tribal members across Indian country have questions that they would like to have answered in a layperson’s language.

Cobell v. Salazar, was a class action lawsuit about individual Indian land, funds and other assets held in trust by the federal government. Courts have decided that the federal government had violated its trust duties, including a duty to account for Individual Indian Money trust funds. This is where the term IIM accounts come in.

President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing government funding of a final version of the $3.4 billion settlement in December 2010, opening the door for resolution after fourteen years of litigation.

What the settlement will provide is a $1.412 billion Accounting/Trust Administration Fund, plus a $100 million Trust Administration Adjustment Fund, plus any earned interest, to pay for Historical Accounting and Trust Administration Claims.

This money will also pay for the cost of administering and implementing the Settlement, as well as other expenses.

$1.9 billion of the settlement is used to create a Trust Land Consolidation Fund to purchase “fractionated” individual Indian trust lands. The program will allow individual Indians to get money for land interests divided among numerous owners. Land sales are voluntary. If you sell your land it will be returned to tribal control.

Up to $60 million is allocated for an Indian Education Scholarship Fund to help Native Americans attend college or vocational school. This money will come out of the $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund and will be based upon the participation of landowners in selling these fractionated land interests. A non-profit organization chosen by the parties will administer the Indian Education Scholarship Fund.

Any remaining funds in the Accounting/Trust Administration Fund, after all distributions and costs relating to the Settlement are paid, will be transferred to the Indian Education Scholarship Fund. Any payments for Class Members that remains unclaimed for five years after Settlement is approved will be transferred to the Indian Education Scholarship Fund.

The proposed Settlement affects individual Indians across the country, including members of most Federally recognized tribes west of the Mississippi River. The Settlement includes two groups or “Classes.” An individual may be a member of one or both Classes. Most people included in the Settlements are members of both Classes.

The Historical Accounting Class involves anyone alive on September 30, 2009 who had an open IIM account any time between October 25, 1994 and September 30, 2009. These accounts have had at least one cash transaction that has not been reversed for any reason.

The Trust Administration Class is made up of those individuals alive on September 30, 2009 who had an IIM account recorded in currently available electronic data in the Federal government systems anytime from approximately 1985 to September 30, 2009. These members need to demonstrate ownership interest in trust land or land in restricted status as of September 30, 2009.

Much of the confusion comes from the titles of the settlement monies being distributed. The “Cobell Checks” as they are commonly referred to, come from the money that was allocated to the individual IIM account holders.

What is referred to as the Salazar Money is the fund that was distributed to the tribes.

Reform of the Indian trust management and accounting system should continue in the future. The Settlement Agreement allows some funds in the Trust Land Consolidation Fund to be used to pay costs related to the work of a commission on Indian trust administration and reform. In the future, Class Members will still be able to bring claims against the federal government for trust reform.

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has failed, time after time, to understand the simple fact the many impoverished Indians living on large and isolated reservations do not have the money to buy a computer nor do they have the accessibility to the Internet. By not recognizing this fact the BIA and Interior were woefully inadequate in providing information to the IIM account holders or to the tribes about the Salazar monies. This lack of communications from the powers-that-be and the people has added greatly to the confusion.

This and more information is readily available at the website established to keep members of the lawsuit informed. The website can be found at www.indiantrust.com. You can also call toll free 1-800-961-6109. If you do not have access to the Internet please ask your elected representative or your local office of the BIA to please provide that information to the Native American newspapers that continue to serve Indian country.

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission by Native Sun News


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
President of Alaska Native village highlights threat to community (9/3)
President Obama enjoys unique welcome in Alaska Native village (9/3)
Transcript: President Obama speaks in Native village of Kotzebue (9/3)
Poarch Creeks secure major ruling in gaming dispute in Alabama (9/3)
Native Sun News: City faces possible suit from Lakota 57 parents (9/3)
Lakota Country Times: Sinte Gleska University to expand campus (9/3)
Tim Giago: Republicans show hypocrisy on the 14th Amendment (9/3)
Ivan Star: 'English education' obliterated culture and language (9/3)
Gyasi Ross: Obama's checkered record on Native environment (9/3)
Opinion: Indian Child Welfare Act doesn't help Indian children (9/3)
Appeal planned in Grand Ronde Tribes disenrollment dispute (9/3)
Father of Native woman who died in jail cell considers lawsuit (9/3)
Oglala Sioux Tribe set to open $16.5M nursing home next year (9/3)
Donald Trump's campaign manager linked to Abramoff scandal (9/3)
Navajo Nation plans big development next to casino in Arizona (9/3)
Graton Rancheria breaks ground on $175M expansion at casino (9/3)
United Auburn Indian Community compact gains quick approval (9/3)
New Mexico tribes weren't involved in off-reservation casino bid (9/3)
Parents of Lakota 57 respond to not guilty verdict in Rapid City (9/2)
Grand Ronde Tribes to disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: New food bank on Pine Ridge Reservation (9/2)
Mark Trahant: FCC invents new law for tribal lands in Oklahoma (9/2)
Native Sun News Editorial: Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton (9/2)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe needs to establish 'virtual' school (9/2)
Steven Newcomb: The religious basis of Doctrine of Discovery (9/2)
Frank Bibeau: Ojibwe people assert treaty rights in Minnesota (9/2)
Carly McIntosh: Feeling love from elders at naming ceremony (9/2)
Winnebago Tribe reports results of primary election for council (9/2)
President Obama set for visit to Native communities in Alaska (9/2)
Alaska Native students being left behind in their own backyard (9/2)
Opinion: Alaska will lose appeal in BIA land-into-trust lawsuit (9/2)
Native children being removed at alarming rates in Manitoba (9/2)
Crow Tribe opens apartment complex for homeless veterans (9/2)
Mississippi Choctaw leader faces challenge in election drama (9/2)
Mohegan Tribe elects incumbents and newcomer for council (9/2)
Donald Trump wanted a casino with Seminole Tribe in Florida (9/2)
New Mexico tribes proposed casino in downtown Albuquerque (9/2)
Construction worker dies at site of Jamul Indian Village casino (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: Not guilty verdict after Lakota 57 trial (9/1)
President Obama meets Native leaders after landing in Alaska (9/1)
Rhonda Pitka: Alaska Natives put priority on subsistence rights (9/1)
Transcript: Obama remarks following Native leaders roundtable (9/1)
94-year-old Alaska Native elder greets Obama with Denali song (9/1)
Politicians in Ohio oppose return of Alaska Native name for peak (9/1)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.