Some minutes ago I read a wonderful new on an italian newspaper...I couldn't believe my eyes!...so I went on Indianz.com and.....I found a surprise that made me happy!!!!! I hope it will be the beginning of the writing of a New History!!!!
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 20, 2011 Statement by the President on the Approval of the Cobell Settlement by U.S. Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan
After fifteen years of litigation, today’s decision marks another important step forward in the relationship between the federal government and Indian Country. Resolving this dispute was a priority for my Administration, and we will engage in government-to-government consultations with tribal nations regarding the land consolidation component of the settlement to ensure that this moves ahead at an appropriate pace and in an appropriate manner. And going forward, my Administration will continue to strengthen our relationship with Indian Country.
Judge approves $3.4B settlement for Cobell trust fund lawsuit
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Filed Under: Cobell
A federal judge approved the $3.4 billion settlement to the Cobell trust fund lawsuit on Monday, calling it fair and reasonable for hundreds of thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Judge Thomas F. Hogan issued his ruling after a daylong hearing into the settlement. He praised lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, for filing the lawsuit in June 1996 and seeing it through 15 years of hearings, trials, appeals, Congressional proceedings and negotiations
"She's accomplished more for Indian people than any other person in recent history," Hogan said.
Cobell, who recently underwent treatment for cancer, was unable to attend the hearing in person but spoke by phone to the court earlier in the day. "She put her reputation on the line and her health," Hogan said before agreeing to her request for a $2 million incentive award.
"I believe she is fully entitled to the award she's requested," Hogan said.
Hogan also approved other awards for the named plaintiffs: $200,000 for Louis LaRose, a former chairman of the Winnebago Tribe; $150,000 for Thomas Maulson, the chairman of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; and $150,000 to Penny Cleghorn, the daughter of Mildred Cleghorn, a former chairwoman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe who was an original named plaintiff before she died.
Hogan denied a request for an award by Earl Old Person, a former chairman of the Blackfeet Nation who was removed as a named plaintiff in 2003 after he disagreed with the direction of the case.
On another issue, Hogan awarded $99 million in fees to the Cobell attorney team. That was nearly twice as much as the $50 million that the Department of Justice said was owed but far less than the $223 million that the plaintiffs requested, an amount that drew controversy on Capitol Hill and in Indian Country.
"I agree it's up to the court to set a reasonable amount," Hogan said, noting the disagreement. He said a portion of the fees, around $13.6 million, will be withheld while he resolves a dispute over them.
The fees were a common issue raised by the 12 Indian beneficiaries who raised objections to the settlement. Many accused the attorneys of being greedy, noting that the money will come out of the $3.4 billion deal.
"Let the federal government pay for it," said Ben Carnes, a member of the Choctaw Nation. "It shouldn't come at our expense."
Another common complaint was the $1.9 billion Indian land consolidation portion of the settlement. Most objectors said they can't trust the Interior Department to carry out the program in an accurate and reasonable manner.
"If this happens you will decimate the Lake Traverse Reservation," said Darlene Pipeboy, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.
"Maybe we should get some land back," said Solomon Quinn, also Sisseton-Wahpeton.
Other objectors said the settlement is insufficient to cover the lack of an historical accounting of their trust funds, also known as the Historical Accounting Class, and the mismanagement of their trust assets, also known as the Trust Administration Class. The deal provides $1,000 for the accounting and a minimum payment of $800 -- but likely more in many cases -- for mismanagement.
The amount is "based on outright thievery," said Margie Elder, a member of the Fort Peck Tribes.
About eight other beneficiaries who filed objections weren't present at the hearing. They included Charles Colombe, a former chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who was being treated for health issues, according to an associate.
In total, 92 beneficiaries filed objections, a small percentage of the estimated 360,000 who will receive a payment as part of the Historical Accounting Class and an estimated 450,000 who will receive a payment for the Trust Administration Class.
Additionally, about 1,900 people opted out of the Trust Administration Class. The overwhelming majority -- about 1,100 -- are members of the Quapaw Tribe who recently filed a trust mismanagement lawsuit of their own.
Hogan said he will issue a written opinion of his ruling from the bench.
Get the Story:
Judge OKs $3.4 billion settlement for Indians (AP 6/21)
Judge approves $3.4B settlement of Indian trust lawsuit (The Oklahoman 6/21)
Judge Approves $3.4B Settlement in Native American Class Action (The Blog of Legal Times 6/20)
Schedule for fairness hearing for Cobell trust fund settlement (6/20)
Quapaw Tribe tries to opt out of Cobell trust fund settlement (6/20)
Judge to hold fairness hearing for Cobell trust fund settlement (6/17)
Jerilyn DeCoteau: Cobell settlement just doesn't feel right (6/6)
Fairness hearing in Cobell settlement scheduled for June 20 (5/26)
Elouise Cobel statement at fairness hearing for settlement
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Filed Under: Cobell
The following is the statement made by Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the Indian trust fund lawsuit, at the fairness hearing for the $3.4 billion settlement. June 20, 2011.
Your Honor, my name is Elouise Cobell. I am an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe and I was born, raised and presently reside on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. I am also the lead plaintiff in this litigation. My great grandfather was Mountain Chief, the last war chief of the Blackfeet Nation.
I wish I could be present at today’s fairness hearing so I could introduce myself and personally explain to you how important this settlement is to 500,000 individual Indian trust beneficiaries. However, physically, I am unable to do so. Therefore, I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to participate by telephone.
I want to explain that few if any other legal cases in modern times have embodied the pain of so many people in Indian Country and also embodied the hopes of these people. The possibility of settling this century old injustice has provided hope for the future and a light on the horizon.
For over 100 years, individual Indians have been victimized by the government’s gross mismanagement of the Individual Indian Trust and our trust assets, including the income earned on our trust lands. And, for the last 15 years, this Court, alone, has held out hope for individual Indians. No other place and no other institution – not the Executive Branch nor, with some notable exceptions, did Congress provide such promise. Successive administrations stubbornly resisted and bitterly fought our efforts with everything it has. Congress was unable to bring resolution, despite great effort to do so.
Finally, in 2009, through the extraordinary efforts of this Court, Class Counsel and the Class Representatives, for the first time since this case was filed on June 10, 1996, the Executive Branch sat down in good faith and negotiated a fair settlement of this case. Then, in December 2010, after a year of meeting with members of Congress and their staff, we were able to obtain Congressional approval of this settlement. In this tight budget environment, that was extremely difficult to do, particularly since 100% of the Senate was needed to pass the ratification of our settlement.
What has been accomplished here is historic and unprecedented – a $3.4 billion settlement – with $1.5 billion distributed directly to individual Indians and $1.9 billion to address fractionation – a necessary investment for improving future management. And this is tax free. In addition, $5 billion has been spent by the government on trust reform brought about by the pressure this case has brought to bear. Nothing like this has ever been done for individual Indians.
I am confident that this Court understands our history of abuse. Its opinions and decisions speak eloquently and sincerely of the challenges we have had to face. The record is plain to anyone who spends the time to read and understand it. It is permanent testimony to the importance of this case and why it has been one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced.
The terms of settlement bring a measure of justice to some of the most vulnerable people in this country. The settlement isn’t perfect. I do not think it compensates all for all the losses sustained but I do think it is fair and it is reasonable. That is what matters – a fair resolution has been achieved. I am convinced that it is the best settlement possible. I am convinced also that if this settlement failed, there would be many more years of litigation with little possibility of a more favorable resolution.
While you will hear from several objectors today, the overwhelming majority of class members -- over 99.98% -- agree that the settlement is fair and want this matter resolved now. This support is not surprising to me. When I have visited innumerable Indian communities over the last year to speak about this settlement, I have heard first hand the wide support this settlement enjoys.
I don’t want to get into the details of our settlement. Those issues have been fully briefed and debated. And, I know that they will be discussed further in this hearing. However, I want to address an issue that has been addressed by the defendants and a couple of members of Congress. That issue is the reasonableness of the legal fees for our Class Counsel.
Often I have said that if our attorneys are not treated fairly and in accordance with controlling law, we will never be able to retain competent lawyers who would be willing to battle the government until justice is served – how ever long that takes. I strongly believe that is true. An overwhelming majority of individual Indian class members agree. Please let the message be that lawyers who represent native people will be treated no worse or compensated no less than those who represent people who are not Indians.
Until Class Counsel accepted our case, we had no hope and no remedy for the abuse that we have been forced to endure for decade after decade, generation after generation. Our attorneys have labored tirelessly and at great sacrifice for many years. They never wavered in their commitment to us and they helped us accomplish something that most people felt would be impossible to achieve.
We would have not have this success without our Class Counsel and I urge you to treat them fairly in accordance with the law.
In closing, 124 years of abuse of our trust is enough. 15 years of intense, difficult litigation is more than enough. Too many of us have died without justice. Any more delays will mean that still more will die without justice. Enough is enough.
On behalf of Native people, I appreciate beyond words what Judge Lamberth, Judge Robertson, and you have done and how each of you has stepped up and courageously resolved some of the thorniest issues that any judge in this country has ever had to address and resolve. I am deeply grateful that this Court has not failed us.
I thank this Court again for this opportunity to provide my views, and pray and hope that I can see the distribution of our settlement funds later this year. That is very important to me, my fellow class members, and justice.