Breaking News: Cobell v Salazar Settled

( – promoted by navajo)

A negotiated settlement has ended the Cobell v Salazar suit involving trust management. As reported in an earlier diary, the case stems from government management of individual Indian lands. At the end of the nineteenth century, Indians were viewed as incompetent and therefore the government managed their lands for them. This meant that the government negotiated the leases, collected the rents, and supposedly deposited the money into an account for the Indians.  Under the law, the government was acting as a trustee for the Indians. As oil, gas, minerals, and timber became important resources, the government also leased these resources to non-Indians on behalf of the Indians.

In 1996 Blackfoot banker Elouise Cobell filed a class-action suit against the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury charging that Indian individual trust accounts had been mismanaged. The suit was originally designated Cobell v. Babbitt. With a change in administrations, the case later became Cobell v. Norton, then Cobell v Kempthorne and finally, Cobell v. Salazar.

Under the negotiated agreement a fund of $1.4 billion will distributed to member of the class action suit to compensate them for their historical accounting claims.

In addition, the settlement establishes a $2 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests. The land consolidation program will provide cash payments to individual Indians and free up the land for the benefit of tribal communities. Fractionated lands resulted when individual Indians who had been allotted lands under the Dawes Act died and their intestate heirs received an equal, undivided interest in the lands as tenants in common. Over time, it became common to have hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of owners of a single parcel of land. This made use and development of the land difficult.

According to news reports:

“This is an historic, positive development for Indian country and a major step on the road to reconciliation following years of acrimonious litigation between trust beneficiaries and the United States,” Secretary Salazar said. “Resolving this issue has been a top priority of President Obama, and this administration has worked in good faith to reach a settlement that is both honorable and responsible. This historic step will allow Interior to move forward and address the educational, law enforcement, and economic development challenges we face in Indian Country.”

“Over the past thirteen years, the parties have tried to settle this case many, many times, each time unsuccessfully,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “But today we turn the page. This settlement is fair to the plaintiffs, responsible for the United States, and provides a path forward for the future.”

Apology or the Willingness to be Unwilling?

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If link is still down see here

The Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report mentions “Racially Discriminatory Constitutional Foundations” and  “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life.” I have found a couple videos that I think will clarify those two things in order. The first is from a clip from a movie entitled “Broken Treaties,” and the second is a movie trailer entitled “Broken Promises: Indian Trust.”

Crossposted at Docudharma (see extra video)

I suggest reading this prior to watching the first video to get a grasp on “Racially Discriminatory Constitutional Foundations.” As for the next part, it will become more and more apparent how over 500,000 American Indians losing billions of dollars through “the annual willingness of Congress and the president to provide sufficient funds” is “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life.” It’s the willingness to be unwilling regardless of the consequences to others that has been part of the problem since the period of Allotment (and before, but not mentioned here) to the present.  

If YouTube is still down, please just read this.

The willingness to be unwilling of the president and congress to do the right thing is a theme that seems to permeate “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life,” as it relates to the broken promises of the Indian Trust.

The Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report. p. 53

“…promises made to American Indians and Alaskan Natives through the Constitution, statutes, case law, and treaties have been subject to the annual willingness of Congress and the president to provide sufficient funds…”

Here is the movie trailer for “Broken Promises: Indian Trust.”

Over 500,000 Indians have had their assets mismanaged. They lost billions of dollars. Our only role was to suffer the consequences of their mistakes…Here’s what I got, $89. $6,000 of the oil taken out of there, and I get 89 bucks?

The “annual willingness of Congress and the president” to do the right thing now is still lacking,

Bush administration seeks another cut in BIA budget

In the last budget of his administration, President Bush on Monday announced a cut of nearly $100 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The fiscal year 2009 budget seeks $2.2 billion for the agency that serves more than 550 tribes and more than 1.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The request represents a 4.4 percent decrease from current levels and a 5.1 percent decrease from last year’s budget.

and they were willing to be unwilling with the white paper that kept the Indian Health Care Improvement Act from passing. That white paper landed in the hands of the Republican Steering Committee in 2006.


Just who was responsible for the “white paper” that derailed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act?

First, there’s the official answer. “I was told that no one in the Department of Justice released it,” Frederick Breckner III, a deputy assistant general, said last week.

Then, there’s the unofficial one. “The evidence is that the Department of Justice put out a white paper to kill this bill,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

And the Republican Steering Committee has some interesting faces:

Ice Melting Under The Inuit & Action Call!

Manifest Destiny being alive and operating is a moot point now. That is the flashlight; here is the laser beam: the Senate Republican Steering Committee.


The Senate Republican Steering Committee has put secret holds on everything from Indian health care to methamphetamine funding to amendments to the Adam Walsh Act. NCAI President Joe Garcia tribes are shocked by the obstructionism.

– snip-

The Senate Republican Steering Committee is composed of some of the most conservative Republicans. The group is led by Sen. James DeMint (R-South Carolina) and its members include Sens. John Kyl (R-Arizona), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).

I’m afraid there’s nothing new or original about the president’s and the congress’s willingness to be unwilling. It was part of preventing there now being 51 states.

“The Dawes Commission: And the Allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes” by Kent Carter. p. 155.

Not all of the non – citizens were welcome. Although the federal government insisted that it was committed to removing intruders, it was clear that many uninvited guests stayed on the land because no one had the power or the will to remove them.

No 51 states, no Indian Trust or Healthcare; sounds about right unless thepossible apology to American Indians yields Indian Healthcare. We’ll see if it’ll be an apology, or yet more willingness to be unwilling. I’ll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.


The Indian apology resolution in the Senate bill is careful to state that it is not meant to authorize or support any claim against the U.S. government or serve as a settlement of any claim.