Interior to start disbursing checks to American Indians

Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. in Dec. 2009. Elouise Cobell, right, looks on as Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes testifies during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. in Dec. 2009. Evan Vucci/AP File Photo

The settlement in a major class action lawsuit between the federal government and hundreds of thousands of American Indians has been finalized, allowing for the distribution of $3.4 billion in funds, officials announced Monday.

Final approval for the settlement in Cobell v. Salazar came Nov. 24, following the expiration of the case’s appeal period. “With the settlement now final, we can put years of discord behind us and start a new chapter in our nation-to-nation relationship,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

The case began in 1996 after Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet leader, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for mismanagement of land trust royalties. Congress approved the settlement in 2010 and courts upheld it during the appeals process. 

Under the settlement, $1.5 billion will be distributed to 500,000 American Indians in stages, with the first group starting to see checks of up to $1,000 by Christmas, according to an Associated Press report. The agreement also sets up a fund for a land consolidation program and establishes a youth scholarship.

“Through the hard work and good will of plaintiffs, Interior and Treasury officials and Department of Justice counsel, we are turning a new page and look forward to collaboratively working with Indian country to manage these important funds and assets,” Hilary Tompkins, the Interior Department’s solicitor, said in a statement.

Cobell passed away in October following a fight with cancer. The White House commended her advocacy work.  

“While Elouise Cobell, the named plaintiff in this case is no longer with us, her legacy will be a renewed commitment to our trust relationship with Indian Country,” President Obama said in a statement.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.