Government Challenges '03 Indian Trust Case
Judge Lamberth ordered the accounting in 2003 as part of a class-action lawsuit in which thousands of American Indians accuse the Interior Department of cheating them out of more than !00 billion by mismanaging oil gas, grazing, timber and other royalties form their land dating back to 1887.
The suit was initially filed in 1996 by Eloise Cobell, a Montana Blackfoot Indian activist, rancher and banker who is the lead plaintiff in Cobell vs Norton, the longest and largest class-action lawsuit brought against the government.
Lawyers for the government have argued the historical accounting would cost $12 billion. Exceeding the cost and scope of what Congress has said was acceptable an have asked the three-judge panel of the U.S, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to allow the interior Department to continue with its own accounting effort.
“A court cannot properly order expenditure of billions of dollars of taxpayer money in aid of an accounting that Congress never authorized in the first place much less required.” Argues the lawyers in their appeal brief.
The appeal is the latest development in the nine-year court battle between the American Indians and the Interior Department which has gone back and forth between the District and Appeals Courts as both sides argue whether the government can accurately assess how much it really owes the Indians.
Cobell met with Senator John McCAin (R-AZ) chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee a few months ago to discuss a way to settle the case. In June of this year the tribes offered to settle the account for $27.5 billion which McCain states is “out of sight” and Congress will never approve the settlement figure.
To add to the confusion in the case, attorneys for the Native Americans have argued the case should be returned to the District Court because the government did not tell the district judge, in the first place, how expensive the accounting would be. And the case goes on . . . .
PAUL WINTERS BRINGS ‘RED BLOOD’ TO THE CRITS
Hollywood writer, producer, director Paul Winters is bringing his first production “Red Blood” to the Colorado River Indian Tribe’s Blue Water Casino at Parker, Arizona for their annual Indian Days Celebration. The film will be shown at 5p.m. on Thursday, September 29th in the tribe’s 4-plex Theatre next to the Casino.
Formerly titled “The Homecoming of Jimmy Whitecloud” the film tells the story of a Native American stand-up comedian (David Midthunder) who is chased back to his grandfather (Lee Whitestar) on the reservation by the New York City mob.
Winters, Whitestar and Midthunder will be present to sign autographs at the Celebration.
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