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Cobell
Jodi Rave: Cobell sees hope for case in new year


"The year 2006 was marked by “huge disappointments” in the 10-year litigation battle by half a million Native landowners who are suing the U.S. Department of Interior for mismanaging Indian lands and resources.

But the suit's lead plaintiff, Elouise Cobell of Browning, sees promise in the year ahead.

To begin, the case was dealt a blow in July when the Court of Appeals for the D.C. District Court removed U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth from the Cobell vs. Interior Department suit. The action came after government attorneys objected to Lamberth's “sweeping moral condemnation” of Interior officials.

“He had been a mainstay and saw the error of the government's ways and tried to hold them accountable,” said Bill McAllister, a spokesman for the Cobell litigation team. “His removal from the case was a huge disappointment. A second disappointment was the failure of Congress to pass legislation that would have resolved the case.”

The Cobell class-action suit was filed on behalf of Native landowners in 1996. Since then, the case has been before three Interior secretaries and two presidential administrations. It may be pushed to a third administration if not settled within the next year. The suit seeks an historical accounting of money earned by Natives from oil and gas royalties and land and timber leases that have been managed by the Interior Department since 1887.

Natives aren't the only ones with questions about lucrative oil and gas royalty payments."

Get the Story:
Cobell and team see progress despite lawsuit setbacks (The Missoulian 12/26)

Impact Awards:
Elouise Cobell | 2007 Winners

Assignment of New Judge:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (December 7, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

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Mark Trahant: It's time for the U.S. to keep its word (7/17)
Editorial: Lamberth too honest in trust fund case (7/17)
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Lamberth removed from Cobell trust fund case (7/12)
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