|With anger mounting in Indian Country, the administrator of the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund settlement is responding to concerns raised by members of Congress.
The Garden City Group said it can't issue the last round of payments from the settlement until all members of the Trust Administration Class are identified and finalized. That won't happen until May 20 at the earliest, due to a recent court order, but the process could take longer because appeals are still being considered.
Approximately 2,000 appeals are before the special master, Garden City Group executive Jennifer Keough said in a letter to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana). She noted that there are no deadlines imposed on the process.
"Once the court authorizes the Trust Administration Class payments, GCG is prepared to have award payments commence within three weeks after receiving the final award calculations," Keough wrote in the April 10 letter.
The minimum payment for the Trust Administration Class will be $800. However, many beneficiaries will receive more, based on the level of activity in their Individual Indian Money (IIM) account.
But Keough said the Garden City Group is not responsible for determining the amount of the payment. The Interior Department hired a consultant to make those calculations, the letter stated.
Indian beneficiaries were initially told the Trust Administration Class payments would be mailed in December 2013. That date slipped to early 2014 but now it looks like the checks won't be mailed till later this year.
"The Class Counsel makes a fine excuse for an indefinite delay but no excuse for all the misleading information that was coming out of the Trust Settlement Site," one commenter wrote on Indianz.Com this morning in response to a letter from attorneys handling the case.
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second
settlement payment (4/16)
Lawmakers question delay
in payments from Cobell settlement (04/03)
beneficiaries owed over $5.3M from Cobell (01/20)
WPM: Border town worried
about Cobell cash and crime (01/16)
Border town to beef up police presence for tribal
Montana tribal members
among those owed Cobell funds (1/15)
Indian beneficiaries who can't be located are owed
Fraud warning issued for
beneficiaries of Cobell settlement (01/02)
S.E. Ruckman: Delay in Cobell settlement hits
Indian Country (12/13)
Jay Daniels: BIA
gets an 'F' for handling of Cobell settlement (12/13)
Navajo beneficiaries expected to receive $49.5M
Cobell payout (12/4)
Delay in Cobell
settlement payout prompts protest in Oklahoma (12/3)
Second Cobell payment won't be mailed out before