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
New efforts aimed at Indian trust fund lawsuit
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Backing away from pledges to appoint a mediator for the Indian trust fund lawsuit, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed at settling the billion-dollar debacle for millions.

Even though the Department of Interior admits it has not accounted for at least $13 billion that has passed through the system, the measure would appropriate just $40 million over four years to pay Indian account holders. "The bill will get money into the hands of Indians and that is my goal in introducing this bill," said Campbell, the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, in a statement.

The Indian Money Account Claims Satisfaction Act of 2003 would create a new bureaucracy to sort out historical accounting claims dating back more than a century. An Indian Money Account Satisfaction Task Force, composed of nine experts in the fields of forensic accounting, Indian law, commercial trust, mineral resources, economic modeling and civil litigation, would be charged with determining the balances in Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts.

An account holder could accept the balance proposed by the task force or challenge it before a new Indian Money Claims Tribunal, a five-member body chosen by the U.S. Attorney General. Or an account holder could chose to remain in the Indian trust fund class action, which was filed in 1996 on behalf of more than 500,000 individual Indians throughout the country.

Keith Harper, a Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney handling the Cobell v. Norton case, welcomed Campbell's involvement. But he called the bill "fundamentally flawed" and said the plaintiffs, who gave a briefing to Senate staff on the case last week, support mediation of the suit.

"We continue to believe that the initial approach accepted by tribes and the Cobell plaintiffs to mediate and resolve the case in a wholesale manner is still the best approach," he said in an interview. "It is not clear to us why the chairman, who initially suggested mediation, has now abandoned that approach."

In June, Campbell and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), vice-chairman of the Indian committee, held a hearing to address settlement of the case. At the time, both Campbell and Inouye backed the appointment of a federal mediator.

The idea was also endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest inter-tribal organization, whose president Tex Hall testified at the hearing. NCAI has since been granted a larger role in the case by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.

Over the years, the plaintiffs and tribal leaders have called for a resolution of the case that is fair to account holders. Many account holders are elderly and depend on income from oil, gas, agricultural and other activity on their lands.

But the effort to resolve the matter has been complicated by political meddling. For the past two years, the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee has devised riders that would terminate the case by limiting the scope of an historical accounting and the funds used to conduct one.

Indian Country has unanimously rejected those approaches and successfully lobbied members of the House last year to remove one such rider. This summer, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Resources Committee, secured an agreement to strike another rider from the 2004 Interior budget bill.

That bill is currently before a joint House-Senate conference committee, of which Campbell is a member. Yet in spite of Pombo's arrangement, Congressional aides expect the Republicans who sit on the committee to unveil language, as early as today, targeting the Cobell suit.

Fearful of another rider, the leaders of the Congressional Native American Caucus, Reps. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) and Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), said they oppose any provisions "that would limit the full historical accounting of the individual Indian trust or otherwise diminish the rights of Indian trust beneficiaries." In an October 17 letter to the Interior subcommittee, they also backed negotiated settlement of the case.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), who represents thousands of Navajo tribal members affected by the suit, is backing Campbell's bill. While calling the federal government's management of the trust "inexcusable," he said ti would put put "an end to the never-ending cycle of litigation."

"This legislation will attempt to account for past actions and put in place a process to avoid future problems," he said.

Congressional Native American Caucus Letter:
J.D. Hayworth/Dale Kildee (October 17, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
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 won't rehear Norton contempt case (10/14)
Court asks Norton for brief in contempt case (09/15)
Court drops Norton appeal in Cobell suit (9/10)
Cobell asks full panel to rehear contempt case (09/03)
Cobell: Taxpayers foot bill for private lawyers (09/01)
Cobell: Delay and deception in trust fund case (09/01)
Trust: 'At least someone is standing up for us' (09/01)
Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises (07/24)
Contempt charges against Interior vacated (7/21)
Commentary: Critics of Cobell, Lamberth shortsighted (7/21)
Neal McCaleb happy court is off his back (7/21)
Editorial: DOI, Congress can't be trusted to do right (7/21)
Editorial: What about holding tribes accountable? (7/21)
Norton cleared of contempt on trust fund (7/18)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Trust fund provision stripped from House bill (7/15)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Hearsay: House sending message to Lamberth (7/14)
Bill could strip DOI of trust fund management (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
House takes testimony on trust fund settlement (7/10)
Editorial: Shame on Bush and Congress for rider (7/10)
Judge Lamberth hears closing arguments in Cobell trial (7/9)
Closing arguments set in Cobell trust fund trial (7/8)
Dicks pins anti-Cobell language on Taylor (7/7)
Editorial: Trust fund settlement bill 'disgraceful' (7/7)
Swimmer to appear on Native America Calling (7/7)
Swimmer finally off the stand in Cobell trial (7/3)
Swimmer testimony in Cobell trial wrapping up (7/2)
Swimmer recalls 'fuzzy' Reagan years (7/1)
Lamberth questions Norton's trust limits (7/1)
Pombo targets trust fund settlement program (6/30)
Swimmer testifies on trust fund accounting (6/27)
Swimmer challenged on Bush reform plans (6/27)
Swimmer expected to take stand in Cobell trial (6/25)
Griles gets Cobell wish list from House (6/26)
Taxpayers fund private attorneys to tune of $3M (6/25)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Swimmer testimony to come at end of Cobell trial (06/05)
Cason to take stand in Indian trust fund trial (6/4)
Indian trust standards debated (6/3)
Suit aims to halt reorganization (6/3)
Norton starts defense in trust fund trial (6/2)
Tribes stress unity on trust reform solutions (6/2)
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/29)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Trial in Cobell trust fund case kicks off (05/02)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Cobell v. Norton Recap: Day 1 of Trial 1.5 (05/02)
Court tackles trust accounting and reform plans (05/01)
Court hears Norton's trust fund appeal (4/25)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Mark Rogers: Reality of being an invisible Indian in New York (7/22)
Tim Giago: Treat alcoholism and drug addictions as diseases (7/21)
Charles Trimble: No longer a Wannabee with Oglala tribal ID (7/21)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Mohawk Nation endures 800+ years (7/21)
Native Sun News: Tribes seek final judgment in ICWA dispute (7/21)
Native Sun News: Paper takes home awards at NAJA meeting (7/21)
Travis Armstrong: Newspaper unfairly targets Morongo Band (7/21)
James Rawlings: Connecticut tries to deny tribal recognition (7/21)
Ryan Bellerose: Indigenous people win with truth on our side (7/21)
Opinion: Warfare caused genocide among New England tribes (7/21)
Editorial: A landmark decision for tribal sovereignty in Alaska (7/21)
Al Jazeera: Advocates seek inclusion of Alaska tribes in VAWA (7/21)
Teens accused of killing homeless Navajo men in New Mexico (7/21)
Shoni Schimmel earns most valuable player at WNBA All-Stars (7/21)
Daily Beast: Native lacrosse players encounter racism on field (7/21)
James Garner, actor with Cherokee heritage, passes on at 86 (7/21)
More people turn in human remains to Washington authorities (7/21)
Lytton Band donates $1M to bolster land-into-trust application (7/21)
Unsettled Ch. 23: Passamaquoddy leader indicted for stealing (7/21)
Man awaits trial for slaying of Chitimacha Tribe's police officer (7/21)
Editorial: No rubes at Quechan Nation in saying no to NFL team (7/21)
Wyandotte Nation agrees with dismissal of casino site lawsuit (7/21)
Catawba Nation reports strong opening weekend at bingo hall (7/21)
Chief of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe wary of $500M casino bid (7/21)
Editorial: Meskwaki Tribe should compromise on racetrack site (7/21)
Editorial: Florida should take lesson from Atlantic City casinos (7/21)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe contains spill at pipeline (7/18)
Richard Littlebear: Montana takes the lead in Indian education (7/18)
President of Oglala Sioux Tribe survives impeachment attempt (7/18)
Senate candidate backs holocaust memorial at Wounded Knee (7/18)
Alaska Supreme Court sides with tribe in child welfare dispute (7/18)
A Tribe Called Red breaks ties with founding member DJ Shub (7/18)
New Mexico governor hosts annual meeting with tribal leaders (7/18)
Case in Point: Citizen Potawatomi Nation creates an economy (7/18)
Law Article: Risk of double taxation under new BIA regulation (7/18)
Unsettled Ch. 20: Passamaquoddy Tribe still lacks constitution (7/18)
Opinion: Bishop helped save lives of Sioux men after 1862 war (7/18)
Gregory Mendoza: Tohono O'odham Nation misleads on casino (7/18)
Cherokee Nation builds 8th gaming facility on Indian allotment (7/18)
Catawba Nation ready to welcome customers to bingo facility (7/18)
WUWM: 'Bingo Queens' shows power of Oneida Nation women (7/18)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux president replies to complaints (7/17)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Teach youth about forms of government (7/17)
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.