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
Cobell criticizes efforts to overturn trust fund wins
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The lead plaintiff in the Indian trust fund suit rallied support on Monday amid new attacks on the long-running case.

Appearing on Native America Calling, Elouise Cobell said she was appalled by legislative efforts that would delay a court-ordered accounting of at least $13 billion in Indian funds. She told listeners of the nationally-broadcast radio program that the Bush administration and some members of Congress are interfering with the judicial process.

"We're in the courts because the Department of Interior and Department of Treasury wouldn't do anything about this when we asked them to years ago," she said.

In September, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the government to account for "all funds" in the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. He rejected several limits the Bush administration sought to impose on the project.

But lawmakers who control Interior's funds are concerned about the cost of the undertaking and whether it will lead to resolution of the trust fund case, which is in its seventh year. Yesterday, a joint committee of House and Senate members approved a provision in the 2004 budget bill that delays the accounting for one year while Congress sorts out the "appropriate" scope.

The language is scaled back from a version unveiled last week that would have delayed the case indefinitely by prohibiting Interior from carrying out Lamberth's orders until the matter is fully resolved by the higher courts. An appeal to the Supreme Court could have taken years.

Dan DuBray, an Interior spokesperson, declined to comment about the rider. Department officials have denied drafting, suggesting or otherwise lobbying for legislation affecting the case.

Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, said Interior knows it's on the losing end of the case. "After the judge gave his ruling on September 25," she said, "then they began this other tactic of running to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell."

Last Tuesday, Campbell, the Republican chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, introduced a bill that would set up a new bureaucracy to determine the balances in hundreds of thousands of IIM accounts. But without fundamental changes, Cobell and Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attorney Keith Harper, who also appeared on the radio show, said the proposal is flawed.

"It's nothing but the Interior's argument," Cobell said of the bill. "It puts all the burden of proof back on the individual Indian. It does some horrible, horrible overturning of what we've already won in court."

"I'm very upset," she added. "Why is Congress acting in this manner?"

Under common trust law, Harper said the trustee is required to prove he or she has distributed payments by keeping proper records. Otherwise, all claims are resolved against the trustee and in favor of the account holder, he said.

"You owe what you can't show," he said. "It's a very clear rule."

Campbell's co-sponsors on the settlement bill are Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), vice-chairman of the Indian committee, and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), who represents thousands of Navajos with IIM accounts. All say Indian beneficiaries have gone long enough without being paid money they are owed.

"Those who insist that a decision by the judge would mean the beginning of the end of this case are wrong," Campbell said on the Senate floor. "With likely appeals, Congressional squabbling over money spent on this effort, and additional lawsuits aimed at securing money damages, this case is just beginning."

Estimates of a full historical accounting range from $2.4 billion to $10 billion. It could take anywhere from five to 10 years to complete.

In his order, Lamberth said Interior has until 2006 for most accounts and 2007 for the rest to finish its jobs. Interior's budget bill, which still needs a final vote by the House and Senate, provides only $45 million in 2004 for this process, a much smaller amount than the $130 million the Bush administration requested earlier this year.

DOI Budget Bills:
H.R.2691 | H.Rept.108-195 | S.1391 | S.Rept.108-89

Relevant Bills:
Campbell: Indian Money Account Claim Satisfaction Act of 2003 (S.1770) | Daschle: Indian Trust Payment Equity Act of 2003 (S.1540)

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

Court Decisions:
Historical Accounting | Fixing the System | Structural Injunction

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:
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 � 2000-2003 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:
North Dakota county wants 'Sheriff Kirchmeier' account off Twitter (12/7)
Lakota Country Times: County sheriff sued over excessive force (12/7)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota artist designs 'Water is Life' tipi (12/7)
Common Dreams: Veterans ask for forgiveness at Standing Rock (12/7)
Tiffany Midge: Don't shame Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for pipeline (12/7)
Editorial: A 'false victory' on the Dakota Access Pipeline easement (12/7)
Nick Zaiac: Let tribes decide what to do with their own homelands (12/7)
Redding Rancheria 'excited' about bid to move casino to new site (12/7)
Dakota Access resumes push to complete final portion of pipeline (12/6)
Dave Archambault: It's time for water protectors to return home (12/6)
Kirk Francis: Tribes must remain vigilant despite #NoDAPL victory (12/6)
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn: Numbers behind Standing Rock's victory (12/6)
Supreme Court schedules oral argument in tribal immunity case (12/6)
Congress passes long-awaited land bills for two tribes in Oregon (12/6)
USDA awards first $10M loan to help consolidate Indian land base (12/6)
Native Sun News Today: Lone Indian Republican wins in Montana (12/6)
Lakota Country Times: New rule curbs waste of tribal resources (12/6)
Clara Caufield: Indian Country in good hands with young leaders (12/6)
Non-Indian gaming firm fighting Wilton Rancheria casino project (12/6)
Chukchansi Tribe casino dispute leads to lawsuits in federal court (12/6)
Indian Country cheers historic decision on Dakota Access Pipeline (12/5)
Tribes and Dakota Access headed back to court for hearing in D.C. (12/5)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp again parts with Indian Country on #NoDAPL (12/5)
Dave Archambault: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe thanks many allies (12/5)
Mark Trahant: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to defy history (12/5)
Democracy Now: Thousands of veterans deploy to Standing Rock (12/5)
Dana Lone Hill: Lakota prophecy warns of our water turning black (12/5)
James Giago Davies: Finding the real enemy in the #NoDAPL fight (12/5)
Senate committee ready for hearing on Cobell buy-back program (12/5)
Bureau of Indian Affairs extends comment period on probate rule (12/5)
Native American Farming and Ranching panel gets new members (12/5)
Class III gaming compacts for five tribes in California take effect (12/5)
Lakota Country Times: 'Tanka Bar' company recognized as leader (12/5)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne leaders inaugurated (12/5)
Harlan McKosato: Don't believe everything you read on Facebook (12/5)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Why election was dangerous for Indian people (12/5)
Indian Republicans associated with Trump seek trust land changes (12/5)
Quinault Nation prepares for journey to Standing Rock encampment (12/2)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois prophecies warn of grave dangers (12/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Media gets it wrong on Dakota Access frontlines (12/2)
Bronson Koenig: What I found during my journey to Standing Rock (12/2)
Timothy Egan: Fake cowboys cheered while the real Indians suffer (12/2)
Lakota Country Times: Laced marijuana finds its way to Pine Ridge (12/2)
Native Sun News Today: Owner of Wounded Knee site lowers price (12/2)
David Ganje: An opportunity for tribes to clean up their homelands (12/2)
Mary Annette Pember: Tribal member arrested for string of arsons (12/2)
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.