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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Osage Nation trust suit survives first test
Thursday, July 31, 2003

A federal judge on Monday cleared the way for the Osage Nation of Oklahoma to pursue its $2.5 billion royalty mismanagement claim against the United States.

In a ruling with implications for other tribes, Judge Emily C. Hewitt of the U.S. Court of Claims said "all funds" belonging to the Osage tribe are held in trust. Government attorneys raised statute of limitation defenses and argued that the tribe couldn't represent the interests of tribal members who ultimately received the oil royalties.

"The responsibility of the government is to the tribal trust fund account," Hewitt wrote in the 10-page decision.

The Osage trust is unique in Indian Country because Congress passed a specific law creating the trust. Under the 1906 act, royalties from the tribe's mineral reservation are passed onto "headright" owners.

But the department's administration of the trust is common to other tribes. The funds are held in an account that the government is charged with managing.

And like other tribes, the Osage Nation received a reconciliation from Arthur Andersen, whose accounting business was disbanded after the firm was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice. Although the General Accounting Office (GAO) has cited numerous problems with the effort -- noting that a complete historical accounting is "impossible" -- the Bush administration takes the position that the reports constitute a type of accounting.

Hewitt did not rule that the Osage report is or isn't an accounting. But she rejected the government's argument that the tribe filed its case too late to seek an historical accounting back to 1906. Congress, she noted, has passed laws that give tribes more time to pursue breach of trust claims.

The Osage case was filed in March 2000, well within the 1999 date that has been imposed by legislation introduced by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and signed into law by President Bush. The bill was written in response to concerns by tribes that their Arthur Andersen reports would be used against them in court.

The Department of Justice has lived up to those fears, arguing that the standard six-year statute of limitations starts ticking when a tribe received its report. For example, since the Osage Nation received its report in 1996, the government first subtracts six years to hit 1990 then another six because the 1990 Department of Interior appropriations act includes language that helps tribes.

The government then asserts that all historical accounting claims prior to October 1, 1984, are time-barred. This is the same date that was cited in the the Cobell case, which concerns individual trust funds.

But so far, judges in the federal district court and the claims court have not been receptive to this line of thought, establishing precedents that are already being applied in trust cases. Hewitt, for example, referred to a decision in the Eastern Shoshone Tribe's case that rejected the government's statute of limitations defenses.

Campbell's legislation, enacted into law in March 2002, gives tribes until 2005 to file mismanagement suits. It encourages settlement of tribal claims.

For individual Indians, the government has never provided any type of reconciliation or accounting. In the Cobell case, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has ruled that the statute of limitations doesn't start ticking until an accounting is provided, or until the government repudiates the trust.

Arthur Andersen was paid $12 million for its reconciliation project, which only looked at transactions from 1972 to 1992. The firm found that $2.4 billion was unsupported by any type of documentation whatsoever. This represented 14 percent of the total value of the transactions examined. An undisclosed dollar amount of transactions were never looked at.

Arthur Andersen's report to the Osage Nation stated that the tribe was not paid at least $791,046.37. The tribe alleges the actual figure owed is at least $2.5 billion.

Get the Decision:
Osage Nation v. U.S. (July 28, 2003)

Related Documents:
S.1857 | Senate Report 107-138 | Senate Testimony | House Debate

Relevant Links:
Osage Nation - http://www.osagetribe.com

Related Stories:
Judge upholds ongoing trust relationship (04/29)
Bush strategy assumes no trust mismanagement (11/05)
Andersen reports cited in tribal trust cases (08/12)
Norton handed worst nightmare (7/25)
Trust accounting looms for tribes (3/20)
Bush administration bets on accounting (3/18)
GAO: Full reconciliation impossible (2/8)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe weighs rights for off-reservation citizens
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe weighs rights for off-reservation citizens
An Oglala Sioux Tribe task force wants citizens who live within treaty boundaries included in elections.

Native Sun News Today Editorial: President Trump is tearing the Republican Party, and America, down
Editorial: President Trump is tearing the Republican Party, and America, down
What is normal and what is not in the Donald Trump era? Morality has been thrown out of the window.

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu: I am Kanaka first. I am Native Hawaiian first.
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu: I am Kanaka first. I am Native Hawaiian first.
Aloha allows us to always have a commonality, regardless of our politics or gender expression.

Top Trump officials skipped out on tribal consultation session amid big changes
Top Trump officials skipped out on tribal consultation session amid big changes
Tribes are being excluded as the Department of Health and Human Services refuses to take a stand on Medicaid and the first Americans.

Tribes welcome probe of Trump administration's handling of key agreements
The Trump administration is facing another internal investigation, this one over the handling of gaming agreements for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe.

Comanche Nation citizens warned of big hit from rival Chickasaw Nation casino
The Comanche Nation is expecting a 25 percent decline in revenues at one of its gaming facilities, and tribal citizens will feel the pain too.

Pamunkey Tribe connected to acquisition of land by gaming company
The recently recognized Pamunkey Tribe is moving full steam ahead with plans for a gaming facility in Virginia.

Man accused of killing indigenous healer dies in apparent lynching in Peru
Man accused of killing indigenous healer dies in apparent lynching in Peru
Olivia Arévalo, an 81-year-old indigenous leader, was killed in Peru and her community apparently took justice in its own hands.

Fired police officer won't go to trial for death of Native man until next year
The Native community is demanding justice for the death of Zachary Bearheels at the hands of police officers in Omaha, Nebraska.

Native Sun News Today: Spotted Eagle promises 'Faith, Hope and Leadership'
Native Sun News Today: Spotted Eagle promises 'Faith, Hope and Leadership'
A strong sense of place dictates Faith Spotted Eagle's priorities as she seeks public office in South Dakota.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: An Indian man walks into court and asks a judge to do the right thing
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: An Indian man walks into court and asks a judge to do the right thing
It was an astonishing day for Chase Iron Eyes as he went before a white-man judge in North Dakota.

YES! Magazine: Native language schools are taking back education for their people
YES! Magazine: Native language schools are taking back education for their people
The last fluent speakers of Wôpanâak passed away more than a century ago. A school is working to revive the language.

Jaclyn Lanae: Another Earth Day is upon us. Here's how you can get involved
Jaclyn Lanae: Another Earth Day is upon us. Here's how you can get involved
There are many reasons to gather together around a single idea, a particular cause but Earth Day is perhaps the single most important cause.

James Giago Davies: A dozen Lakota drivers race into action at the Speedway
James Giago Davies: A dozen Lakota drivers race into action at the Speedway
Folks in Lakota country would be surprised at the number of Native drivers that make up the grid at the Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota.

Mechoopda Tribe: 'Enough is enough' as appeals court rules in homelands case
The Mechoopda Tribe is still willing to sit down with local opponents to discuss plans for a long-delayed casino in northern California.

Only caribou herd in lower 48 United States declared 'functionally extinct'
The only caribou herd in the lower 48 United States has been declared 'functionally extinct' because it is down to just three animals.

Tribes kept in the dark as Trump administration rolls on with reorganization
Despite claims by the Trump administration that it won't move forward with a reorganization without Indian Country's input, tribes continue to be excluded.

Cronkite News: Former sheriff pardoned by Trump seeks to clear conviction
A controversial former sheriff who targeted Native people and other minorities is trying to clear his record.

Victor Swallow: We are a broken and scattered people. How do we rebuild?
We are a broken people and most of us wouldn't know how to survive without the help of the government that destroyed our ancestors' way of life.

Native Sun News Today: Native youth take a stand against methamphetamine
A methamphetamine awareness walk will bring together service providers, recovering addicts, law enforcement, city leaders and youth in South Dakota.

Pine Ridge family still grieving after crash claims lives of mother and 14-year-old son
On February 23, Lynell Morrison-Cash and her son Waylon, 14, died when their car was struck head-on in Nebraska.

Tribal lobbyist running on pro-Trump agenda for seat in North Carolina
A well-known tribal lobbyist is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Congressional seat in North Carolina.

South Dakota now offering specialty license plates for all nine Sioux tribes
The state of South Dakota is now offering specialty license plates for all nine tribes based within its borders.

Angelo Baca: Bears Ears faces serious threat under the Trump administration
Bears Ears is at the center of a critical discussion around Indigenous rights and protection of sacred sites and traditional uses in the United States.

Cronkite News: Supreme Court strikes down law linked to violent crime
The Supreme Court ruled that a federal law allowing deportation of immigrants who commit 'crimes of violence' was unconstitutionally vague, a decision hailed by Arizona immigration lawyers as promising.

Tribal self-governance celebrates 30th anniversary with some 'PROGRESS'
The tribal self-governance program, a key development in the self-determination era, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with some achievements.

Tribes secure hearing on homelands legislation amid drama on Capitol Hill
When it comes to tribal homelands, the Senate has some catching up to do with the House.

James Giago Davies: We grew up never knowing my veteran dad was suffering
My dad never told me that he loved me. I never once heard him tell my mom he loved her.

Native Sun News Today: Audit faults tribal consultation at nuclear agency
An audit is finding much to be desired when it comes to tribal consultation and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Tribes hail historic Supreme Court hire as justices hear treaty rights case
With the U.S. Supreme Court taking up its third Indian law case of the term, tribes and their advocates are welcoming a historic development.

Seminole Tribe readies June 28 opening for Hard Rock in Atlantic City
With Donald Trump's ghosts long gone, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City is ready to rock and roll on June 28.

George Amiotte: Reflecting on my third tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969
It was 1969 and I was returning to Vietnam for my third tour of duty (TDY) with the 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force.

'We will be back' vows leader of National Congress of American Indians after sovereignty vote fails
A vote on the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act failed in spectacular fashion evening but a key leader says the fight isn't over.

Gyasi Ross: Democrats turn on tribes and vote against our sovereignty
'Democrats show, once again, that they are no allies, accomplices, friends or champions of tribal sovereignty.'

Chelsey Luger: Whose Native lands are you on? A new app can tell you
Enter your ZIP code into the Native Lands App and an interactive map will tell you the area’s original language and tribal ties.

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.