The late Elouise Cobell meets President Barack Obama at the White House on December 8, 2010. Cobell, a citizen of the Blackfeet Nation, was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Indian trust fund lawsuit. She passed away in 2011 without seeing her share of the $3.4 billion settlement. Photo by Pete Souza / White House

Final push to locate Indian beneficiaries owed money from Cobell settlement

A November 27 deadline is fast approaching to locate Indian beneficiaries who are entitled to a share of the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund settlement.

The overwhelming majority of beneficiaries already received their funds. But an estimated 17,000 have not been paid because the Department of the Interior can't find them.

As trustee, the federal government is obligated to keep track of beneficiaries. Many, though, are considered "whereabouts unknown" because of poor record-keeping, faulty information and other problems.

The Garden City Group, the court-appointed administrator of the settlement, maintains a database of "whereabouts unknown" beneficiaries as well as those whose contact information is not current. Data can be searched by state and then by tribal affiliation, though in some cases an affiliation is not available.

If the missing beneficiaries can't be located by November 27, their funds will be transferred to the Cobell scholarship fund. Checks that have been mailed but haven't been cashed by the deadline also will go to the fund.

The deadline does not apply to situations where the estates of deceased beneficiaries are still being processed by Interior.

Read More on the Story:
Deadline to file claims under Cobell settlement nears (The Farmington Daily-Times November 21, 2017)
Dept. of Interior searching for whereabouts of 17,000 Native Americans (KTUU November 17, 2017)
Final deadline to submit documents for Cobell Settlement Nov. 27 (Mvskoke Media November 16, 2017)

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