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Trust
Commentary: Swimmer still not telling the truth on trust


"Why should the Indian people, Congress and the public believe Interior now?

Interior deserves to have its point of view on Trust reform acknowledged by the media. The press has reported on it, but not to the exclusion of the positions of the Cobell plaintiffs

As Interior’s spokesman on the Cobell v. Interior saga, Ross Swimmer surely knows that no press representatives are going to be as one-sided in their coverage as Interior may prefer. Still, Interior may be dismayed with editorial boards that have addressed the case, most of whom have called upon Interior to pay up and clean up.

The editorials have largely focused on the poverty in Indian Country. Although Mr. Swimmer has suggested elsewhere that poverty is the result of socio-economic factors beyond Interior’s control, squandering valuable Indian land assets cannot be overlooked as a cause. From my perspective, even Indians in the top 1% deserve a full Trust Accounting, which is not what Interior is providing.

My earlier article, which Mr. Swimmer responded to, was aimed at giving the media more information than has been provided by Interior and the Cobell plaintiffs. Getting “underneath” the litigation is key to evaluating whether Interior’s efforts are adequate or misdirected. It also aids evaluation of the judicial response and the effectiveness of the lawsuit as a means of providing full reparations for Interior’s neglect.

A string of sound bites should be met with skepticism by journalists. Parsing requires putting them in fuller context. It means, in short, taking a trip down the rabbit hole to Blunderland."

Get the Story:
Lee Helfrich: DC lawyer again blasts Interior over handling of Indian trust (Neiman Watchdog 1/25)

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

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