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Cherokee Nation files breach of trust lawsuit against federal government

Filed Under: Law | National | Trust
More on: bill john baker, cherokee, oklahoma, todd hembree, treaties
     
   

Cherokee Nation on YouTube: Cherokee Nation Seeks Justice For Broken Treaties

The Cherokee Nation is suing the federal government in order to secure an accounting of its trust funds.

Citing dozens of treaties and agreements dating to the late 1700s, the tribe said it has never been provided with a proper accounting of the proceeds from land sales, oil and gas development and other activities. A dollar figure wasn't provided but similar cases have been settled for tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.

“There is a strong desire for resolution of these breach of trust issues,” Chief Bill John Baker said in a press release. “This is long overdue, and the Cherokee people are owed their rightful assets and resources. It is my duty as Principal Chief to make sure the United States upholds their promises to our people.”

The complaint was filed in federal court in Oklahoma on Monday. It comes on the 231st anniversary of the tribe's first treaty with the United States.

"This legal action is necessary because the United States government managed and controlled the Cherokee Nation’s property but never in hundreds of years provided a full accounting as the law requires,” said Todd Hembree, the tribe's attorney general

More than 100 tribes have settled similar lawsuits with the Obama administration. As of late September, the total value has grown to $3.3 billion.

Many, but not all, of those cases had been filed toward the end of the Bush administration because tribes faced a critical deadline to assert their claims. The first big round of settlements arrived in April 2012 and dozens more followed over the years.

It can typically take years for a breach of trust case to reach a point where a settlement might be reached.

Related Stories:
Documents detail settlement amounts in tribal trust fund lawsuit (09/29)
More tribes settle trust fund lawsuits as Obama era nears end (9/27)

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