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NARF cites Obama as catalyst for tribal trust settlements

President Barack Obama led the charge to settle 41 tribal trust cases, John Echohawk of the Native American Rights Fund said on Thursday.

NARF, where Echohawk serves as executive director, represented 24 of the tribes affected by the $1 billion settlement. The cases address mismanagement of trust funds and trust assets.

“These landmark settlements come directly from President Obama through his staff and spokespeople,” said Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation. “He is the first President to truly ‘own up and owe up’ to centuries of bad trusteeship for Indian tribes.”

Melody McCoy, a member of the Cherokee Nation, served as lead attorney for the NARF cases. She said the settlement was the direct result of true government-to-government negotiations.

“All of our clients have put a lot of work into assessing their claims and options and when decisions are made with favorable results, we are very happy to support them," McCoy said.

The settlement agreements for NARF's clients were filed in court on Wednesday. Approval is expected in the next few weeks, resulting in the release of the funds to the tribes.

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