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
Dynamic Homes
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...
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:
Department of the Army takes the lead on Dakota Access Pipeline (1/18)
Dakota Access executive confirms crude already placed in pipeline (1/18)
Bureau of Indian Affairs releases annual listing of recognized tribes (1/18)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud Sioux Tribe opens homeless shelter (1/18)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne focuses on foster care (1/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Be safe and be prepared as winter hits the plains (1/18)
Disenrollment epidemic affects dozens of tribes across the nation (1/18)
New battle opens as Dakota Access disputes environmental review (1/17)
Judge declines to block publication of Dakota Access Pipeline notice (1/17)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responds quickly to Dakota Access threat (1/17)
President Obama names first members of Native youth commission (1/17)
Tim Giago: Discovering a love for food at an Indian boarding school (1/17)
Lakota Country Times: Historic decision for Indian Child Welfare Act (1/17)
Native Sun News Today: Pine Ridge teams fight it out at the buzzer (1/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Tournament is a testament to our Native youth (1/17)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: News for ranchers in the new year (1/17)
Gyasi Ross: Let's divest from DAPL and support Native owned banks (1/17)
Jeffrey Ostler/Nick Estes: Treaties and the Dakota Access Pipeline (1/17)
Mary Annette Pember: Bad River Band takes stand on oil pipeline (1/17)
Steve Russell: Resolutions for tribal leaders and even the Donald (1/17)
Craig Tribal Association celebrates 'historic' trust land acquisition (1/16)
Mark Trahant: Congress moves forward with repeal of Obamacare (1/16)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne banker beats the odds (1/16)
James Giago Davies: The real power to defeat the Wasicu pipeline (1/16)
Tiffany Midge: Hollywood needs to stop stereotyping Native people (1/16)
Peter d'Errico: New book connects Native America with Palestine (1/16)
Alaska tribe makes history with approval of trust land application (1/13)
Mille Lacs Band divests from bank over Dakota Access financing (1/13)
Navajo Code Talkers participate in presidential inaugural parade (1/13)
Native Sun News Today: Uranium expansion by sacred site halted (1/13)
Clara Caufield: Commemorating the outbreak from Fort Robinson (1/13)
Terese Mailhot: Paying tribute to my brother & my protector Guy (1/13)
Steven Newcomb: It's been 130 years of taking indigenous lands (1/13)
Trump's Energy nominee vows to stay away from Dakota Access (1/12)
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.