Wednesday, December 9, 2009

US Government Offers $3.4 Billion Settlement?

Hello all,
Heard this on NPR this morning. A good sign? A fair settlement? Or beads for Manhattan: too little, too late? Or is anything better than nothing? Let's discuss!

After A History Of Mistrust, $3.4B For Indians
by Liz Halloran
December 8, 2009
For most of its 122-year history, the government trust fund program that pays American Indians royalties for use of their land has been a tragic mess, plagued by bureaucratic mismanagement and accusations of flat-out theft.

Tribal members have long contended that they are owed billions of dollars in unpaid dues for farming, grazing, timber-cutting and other government leases on their land dating back to the 1887 federal act that broke up reservations and gave Indians individual parcels.

Records about who owns — and are owed — are scattered across the country in remote locations and dusty files, or simply don't exist.

And many tribal elders waiting for their rightful recompense have been dying in poverty.

That, perhaps more than anything, says Indian activist Elouise Cobell, is what persuaded her to agree this week to settle her 13-year legal fight to force the government to account for what's due to a half-million Indian landowners, and to pay up.

She joined administration officials Tuesday in announcing an agreement under which the government would spend about $3.4 billion to pay out a fraction of the unpaid royalties claimed in the lawsuit, and to help tribes acquire small, Indian-owned parcels to establish larger, more usable tracts.

Read the rest of the article here.

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