indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Two mediators selected in Cobell trust fund suit
Tuesday, April 6, 2004

A retired federal judge who handled tribal cases and an attorney who has worked on several tribal disputes have been chosen as mediators in the Indian trust fund lawsuit.

Members of Congress who are pushing for resolution of the long-running case announced the selection of former judge Charles B. Renfrew and professional mediator John G. Bickerman yesterday. The lawmakers hailed the move as an important development.

"I am very pleased the parties have come together and agreed to have these two distinguished men help bring a reasonable end to this case," Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

"This is another hopeful step in a very complicated case in which hundreds of thousands of individual Indians await a final and just settlement," added Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Resources Committee.

Renfrew and Bickerman were selected after several rounds of talks between the plaintiffs in the case and representatives of the Bush administration. Each party suggested five possible candidates, a list that included former president Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.

The field was narrowed down to eight choices, four from each side, who were then interviewed by the parties. An agreement on Renfrew and Bickerman, both of whom have worked with Republican and Democrat administrations, was reached last Friday.

The plaintiffs have welcomed the involvement of Congress in settling the lawsuit, which was filed seven years ago in June 1996. Last night in New Mexico, lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell spoke to Navajo tribal members who are part of the case and told them in a letter of the need for mediators of "stature and integrity."

"While it is clear to us that Secretary Gale Norton and Attorney General John Ashcroft will not settle the case without pressure, perhaps Congressional involvement will provide the necessary element to achieve a fair settlement of the case," she said.

Renfrew, an attorney by training, served as a federal judge in California from 1972 to 1980. He was appointed by former president Richard Nixon, a Republican.

During his eight years on the bench, Renfrew handled a number of Indian law cases for tribes in northern California. He upheld the federal-tribal relationship in trust and water rights disputes.

Renfrew left the court for a short stint as deputy attorney general at the end the Carter administration. He went on to serve as a vice president for legal affairs for Chevron Oil and later, as its director. More recently, he's served as a special master in several cases, including a Microsoft anti-trust case.

Bickerman, an attorney, has worked with tribes on a number of occasions. As president of his own dispute resolution firm, he's mediated treaty, land, environmental and other cases.

One significant case involved several Michigan tribes and the state and federal governments. In the spring of 2000, his firm settled a long-running fishing rights case by allocating the catch among the tribes under an 1836 treaty.

Bickerman's ongoing cases includes work with the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, the Metlakatla Tribe of Alaska, the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation. He's successfully mediated other cases where the Department of Interior was a named party.

Talks between the plaintiffs and the Bush administration began in January at the urging of members of Congress. The plaintiffs last May said they were interested in mediation. Secretary Norton finally responded last November.

The negotiations mark the sixth time the plaintiffs and the government have sought to resolve the case, which represents 500,000 individual Indians whose oil, gas, timber, grazing and other assets are managed by the federal government. All of the earlier attempts failed although an agreement with former Special Trustee Tom Slonaker was reached at the end of the Clinton administration, only to fall through when it was rejected by the Department of Justice.

A subsequent attempt during the Bush administration ended with the plaintiffs' attorneys particularly upset because they had shared their settlement model with the government. Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles would later ridicule the model in testimony to Congress and said he would not settle the case. But an outside trust expert called the proposal a significant step at a hearing before Campbell's committee last October.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Bickerman Dispute Resolution - http://www.bickerman.com/index2.shtml
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Appeals court issues stay of DOI shutdown order (03/25)
Neal McCaleb criticizes Tex Hall and Judge Lamberth (03/19)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Computer shutdown applies to all DOI systems (03/16)
BIA shows off information technology facility (03/02)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Cobell continues fight for accounting of billions (12/19)
Lamberth orders DOI to turn over IT reports (12/12)
DOI fares poorly on computer security report card (12/11)
Trust fund rider faces test in courtroom (11/24)
Trust reform a big issue at NCAI conference (11/21)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Norton finally responds to trust settlement (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Appeals court puts trust fund ruling on hold (11/14)
Norton using rider to seek stay of Cobell case (11/12)
Editorial: White House actions on trust 'contemptible' (11/7)
Quick fixes won't solve trust fund problems (11/5)
President Bush 'on the hook' for trust fund delays (11/5)
Norton testimony sought by plaintiffs in trust case (11/5)
Tribal company's work on trust accounting on hold (11/5)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Norton appealing Indian trust fund ruling (11/3)
Norton says White House behind trust fund rider (11/3)
House approves trust fund rider in DOI bill (10/31)
Campbell pushes action on trust fund suit (10/30)
Battle brews in House over DOI budget bill (10/30)
Cobell rallies support for trust fund case (10/28)
DOI bill halts Indian trust fund case (10/24)
Bill targets Indian trust fund suit (10/22)
House chairman supports self-governance rider (10/14)
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization (10/09)
Lamberth lays out future of Indian trust reform (09/26)
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Administration eyes consolidation of Indian appraisals (08/15)
Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises (07/24)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
On trust, lawmakers take Bush officials at face value (06/25)
Private attorneys reap benefits on Cobell case (06/24)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Bush administration turns to Congress on trust (04/04)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
Donna Ennis: Don't let ethnic imposters take away our identity (9/16)
Sen. Cantwell to introduce bill to end NFL's tax-exempt status (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe to open first Smashburger location in December (9/16)
Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods (9/16)
Indian family in Washington continues bid for casino on allotment (9/16)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe challenges NLRB jurisdiction over casino (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe loses bid for commercial casino in Massachusetts (9/16)
Connecticut tribes see another decline in slot machine revenues (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
Paskenta Band holds election aimed at resolving council dispute (9/15)
Tribes in Oklahoma raise their minimum wage above federal level (9/15)
Blog: Taos Pueblo exerts sovereignty over health care programs (9/15)
Travel: Remote parks on Navajo Nation are an 'extraordinary find' (9/15)
Petitions submitted to put Tohono O'odham Nation casino to vote (9/15)
Dry Creek Rancheria struggling to see gaming revenues recover (9/15)
Poarch Creeks still open to Class III gaming compact discussion (9/15)
Editorial: Cherokee Nation brings jobs with project next to casino (9/15)
Native Sun News: Olympic medalist visits Pine Ridge Reservation (9/12)
Bryan Brewer: Bill for Native language immersion a high priority (9/12)
Sen. Tester applauds approval of final Cobell settlement payout (9/12)
Kenneth Deer: UN meeting an opportunity for indigenous peoples (9/12)
Judge won't issue injunction in Pojoaque Pueblo compact dispute (9/12)
Ex-manager for Shingle Springs Band's casino told to pay $2.4M (9/12)
Briefs filed in lawsuit over United Keetoowah Band's gaming site (9/12)
Quapaw Tribe expands agricultural program at casino restaurant (9/12)
Judge approves motion to distribute Cobell settlement payment (9/11)
Native Sun News: Final Cobell payment might 'almost' be ready (9/11)
Mark Trahant: Affordable Care Act is worthy of debate in election (9/11)
Gyasi Ross: Support Quechan skate park and self-determination (9/11)
Disaster declared after Moapa Paiute Reservation hit by flooding (9/11)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (9/11)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate a target over fluency issue (9/11)
Northern Arapaho Tribe withdraws from joint Wind River council (9/11)
Editorial: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe trying to make budget work (9/11)
University of Utah creates scholarships for students of Ute Tribe (9/11)
Nez Perce Tribe seeks update to historic trail from 1877 journey (9/11)
Miccosukee Tribe seeks removal of judge in dispute with lawyers (9/11)
Jessica Carro: Native people treated like foreigners in Argentina (9/11)
Peru investigates murders of four prominent indigenous leaders (9/11)
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.