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
Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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...
Navajo Nation welcomes first Indigenous attorney general of Canada
Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada's top legal official, is meeting with her counterpart on the Navajo Nation.
Red Lake Nation voters return Darrell Seki to chairman's post
Darrell Seki, Sr. will be serving a second term as chairman of the Red Lake Nation.
Rosebud Sioux Tribe expands economic development initiatives
Tribal economic independence is the long term goal of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation.
Ivan Star Comes Out: Native people go without justice on their own lands
Officials in South Dakota are comfortable with ignoring Indian-White relations so they can look to their future without guilt.
'I never thought I would see her again': Children reunited with migrant family
A family fleeing gang violence in Honduras was separated at the U.S. border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.
Monument features the first female leader of Pamunkey Tribe
Cockacoeske united her fellow Indian nations and signed a key treaty during a time of great change.
La Jolla Band adds slot machines to trading post on reservation
The La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians is finally getting back into the tribal gaming business.
Outlook for tribal homelands remains bleak in the Trump era
Due to litigation, the Trump administration might be forced to do something unprecedented -- take a tribe's trust land out of trust.
Mark Charles: President Trump isn't the only thing wrong with America
The truth of the matter is that is our entire American colonial empire is naked.
'Trump picks Putin over America': Native candidates slam president's remarks
One Native Republican defended Donald Trump but other Native candidates were critical of the president's remarks about Russia.
'Blatant discrimination': Native voters face barriers at ballot box
Native Americans have been "systematically denied access to fair representation" as a result of persistent barriers to voting.
Native comedian confronts audiences with jokes about genocide
A citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Howie Echo-Hawk has been making people laugh all his life.
'That's a big screwup': Federal agency exposed tribal sites in drilling report
Federal officials mistakenly published confidential information about cliff dwellings, spiritual structures, rock art and other Native sites in Utah.
'A tragic mistake': President Trump faces fire for remarks on Russia
President Donald Trump sparked immediate backlash for siding with Russia. But then he said he misspoke.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs takes up three bills at hearing
Two bills addressing water rights and a third to repeal an outdated ban on alcohol distilleries are on the agenda.
Narragansett matriarch Eleanor Spears Dove prepares for big birthday
One of the oldest living citizens of the Narragansett Tribe, Eleanor Spears Dove, turns 100 on August 1.
Native Sun News Today: County looks at fugitives in Indian Country
Authorities in South Dakota say 22 percent of active felony warrants are for fugitives on four reservations.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson: I am not afraid to be radical
The epic nature of settler colonialism requires radical responses.
'We will be waiting': Tribes remain opposed to Keystone XL Pipeline
Construction-related activities show the Keystone XL Pipeline is closer to becoming a reality despite opposition in Indian Country.
Navajo Nation offered up to $525 million in cash for gun company
The Navajo Nation offered to pay up to $525 million in cash for the Remington gun company but the offer was rejected.
Quapaw Tribe heads to polls as chairman challenged by failed Trump nominee
The chairman of the Quapaw Tribe is up for re-election and his opponent is an unlikely one.
Lenape Tribe seeks to reclaim site of historic school in Delaware
The Lenape Indian Tribe owns just a half-care of its homelands in present-day Delaware.
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe secures victory over state in tax dispute
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has once again emerged victorious in a taxation dispute in South Dakota.
Cherokee Nation and Quapaw Tribe spend big on casino push in Arkansas
The Cherokee Nation and the Quapaw Tribe have spent more than $1.2 million to boost gaming efforts in Arkansas.
Cowlitz Tribe offers treatment services for gambling addiction
The Cowlitz Tribe is offering treatment for gambling addiction with funding from its casino in Washington state.
Tribes face obstacles at troubled Indian Health Service facility
Three Sioux tribes are asserting self-determination in order to take care of their own people.
Gila River Indian Community sees movement on homelands legislation
A bill to help the Gila River Indian Community protect its homelands is slated for action on Capitol Hill.
'I knew I wasn't guilty': #NoDAPL activist acquitted in North Dakota
Micah Lott was accused of trespass and rioting at Standing Rock but the case was so weak that the judge cleared him.
Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas invents new genre
Haida traditions are an inspiration to contemporary artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, the inventor of a new graphic genre.
'You know, Andrew Jackson': Hearing scheduled into Trump reorganization
Key lawmakers are looking into the Trump administration's controversial reorganization amid ongoing complaints in Indian Country.
Native candidate for Congress draws attention of White House
One #NativeVote18 candidate in Kansas is facing the Trump machine while another has resurfaced in New Mexico.
Navajo Nation man still missing after more than two months
Billy Nez, Jr., was last seen by his sister on April 28. He turned 50 a week later.
Republicans seek to 'modernize' federal endangered species law
'Republicans are turning their back on the most vulnerable species in the country,' an environmentalist said.
'A war on the indigenous': Albert Bender on Trump's border policies
Donald Trump's inhuman campaign at the border amounts to a war against the Native people of this hemisphere.
Red Fawn Fallis sentenced to nearly five years for #NoDAPL incident
A non-fatal gun incident will keep Dakota Access Pipeline opponent Red Fawn Fallis in federal prison.
Top police official apologizes to Aboriginal peoples for 'pain and suffering'
Law enforcement helped remove indigenous children from their homes and have contributed to high rates of indigenous imprisonment.
'On the road to recovery': Sports betting raises concerns about addiction
An estimated 9 million Americans suffer from gambling addiction.
Another tribal recognition bill advances with Republican support
With little fanfare, another tribal recognition bill is advancing as a top Republican asserts authority over the politically-complex process.
Cherokee Nation acquires historic site by Trail of Tears landmark
The Cherokee Nation is protecting a historic site from development and rebuilding its land base in Oklahoma.

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.