Native Americans getting final Cobell payments

Signs that things are slowly changing . . . The US government has settled land-use royalties and land claims with a group of Native Indians. -LW

HELENA – Hundreds of thousands of Native Americans have started receiving the final cash payments this week from one of the largest government settlements in U.S. history, about three years after the deal was approved.

Checks ranging from $869 to $10 million were sent beginning Monday to more than 493,000 people by the administrators of the $3.4 billion settlement from a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning.

Some $941 million is being distributed in this second round of payments, plaintiffs’ attorney David Smith said Thursday.

Cobell sued after finding the government squandered billions of dollars in royalties for land it held in trust for individual Indians that was leased for development, exploration or agriculture. The mismanagement stretched back to the 1880s, the lawsuit found.

She died of cancer in 2011, after more than 15 years of doggedly pursuing the lawsuit, rallying Native Americans around the cause and lobbying members of Congress for its approval.

Cobell’s successor at the nonprofit she created, the Native American Community Development Corp., said she regrets that Cobell is not around to see the checks arrive.

“That’s the sad part. You work all those years and to not to see it to fruition is bittersweet,” NACDC executive director Angie Main said Thursday.

Cobell was present when a federal judge approved the settlement just months before her death. But it took years to work through the appeals and then sort through incomplete and erroneous information provided by the government to identify all the beneficiaries.

Some 22,000 people listed in the data provided had died, while 1,000 more listed as dead were still alive, Smith said.

The government data also listed the wrong or no address for three out of four people, he said.

The payments are the second of two distributions in the settlement. The first distributions of $1,000 apiece went to more than 339,000 people. This second, final round of distributions is based on a formula looking at 10 years of the highest earnings on those individual landowners’ accounts.

The settlement also includes a $1.9 billion land buy-back program now underway in which willing landowners sell the government their land allotments to be consolidated and turned over to the tribes.


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2 thoughts on “Native Americans getting final Cobell payments

  1. macdonalddon says:

    It would come as no surprise for them to just label those natives as “domestic terrorists”, seize their assets and toss them into FEMA camps.

    After all, the govt is really a veiled crime syndicate.

  2. tvfmontana says:

    And non taxed to boot?
    Text of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014
    This bill was passed by Congress on September 18, 2014 and goes to the President next. The text of the bill below is as of Sep 20, 2014 (Passed Congress/Enrolled Bill).

    Download PDF

    Source: GPO

    Close Comparison
    One Hundred Thirteenth Congress of the United States of America

    At the Second Session
    Begun and held at the City of Washington on Friday, the third day of January, two thousand and fourteen

    H. R. 3043
    Just an excerpt from the first part of the bill – get a barf bucket before you read any further

    This Act may be cited as the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014.

    Indian general welfare benefits

    In general
    Part III of subchapter B of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before section 140 the following new section:

    Indian general welfare benefits
    In general
    Gross income does not include the value of any Indian general welfare benefit.
    Indian general welfare benefit
    For purposes of this section, the term Indian general welfare benefit includes any payment made or services provided to or on behalf of a member of an Indian tribe (or any spouse or dependent of such a member) pursuant to an Indian tribal government program, but only if—

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