Editorial: $58B trust payout more than fair
"A conclusion to Cobell v. Kempthorne is in sight. The accountability of the U.S. government has been of chief concern to hundreds of thousands of defrauded Indian people, some of whom died poor waiting for this day.

The plaintiffs, represented for a dozen years by the tenacious Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Nation, seek acknowledgement by the federal government that it grossly neglected its fiduciary duty to Native landowners over the last century. They want a complete accounting of all Individual Indian Money accounts. Their $58 billion claim against the United States represents what they say the government earned from failing to distribute drilling, grazing and mining royalties to IIM account holders. The figure is reasonable, Cobell said, and ''represents the minimum harm that Indians have suffered under our broken trust system.''

Considering that generations of non-Indians literally extracted immense wealth from the earth beneath the feet of Indian people and became powerful economic players in America, the plaintiffs' claim is more than fair. $58 billion is conservative, even generous when one considers how the West was really won - inhumanely, via theft and politics.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of the Interior have used more than $300 million of taxpayer dollars and the resources of the Justice Department to defend themselves. In March of last year, the government offered a $7 billion partial settlement described as an investment in Indian country. The letter by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne also demands Congress relieve the government's liability for any future IIM claims."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Call in the debt (Indian Country Today 6/13)

Another Story:
Final judgment phase begins in Cobell trial (Indian Country Today 6/13)

Trial Transcripts:
June 9 AM | June 9 PM | June 10 AM | June 10 PM | June 11 | June 12 AM

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