Cobell says lawsuit will proceed

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WASHINGTON – Plaintiffs in the long-running lawsuit over the Individual Indian Money trust have rejected proposals from the presidential administration to consolidate the fractionated IIM lands, turn management functions and land title over to individuals and tribes while curtailing federal liabilities, and settle outstanding claims in return for monetary payments.

“We are back at square one,” contends Elouise Cobell, of the case that bears her name, adding that the administration’s proposals, coming late in the legislative session, have made a hash of settlement efforts by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “We have said from the beginning that we want a settlement, but have emphasized that it must be fair. ... It is not fair to pay claims pennies on the dollar. So we will continue our litigation efforts since the government’s proposal has effectively killed any possibility of a sound resolution.”

Following Cobell’s statements in an Oct. 31 release, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians issued one that claimed wholesale rejection of the measures by tribes in the Northwest, the Plains and the Southeast.

The ATNI release quoted Fawn Sharp, chairman of the Quinault Nation, as being “appalled” at last-minute proposals that would “alter the nature of federal – Indian relationships.”

In addition, Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is quoted as equating the proposals with “termination” at an Oct. 25 SCIA meeting in Rapid City, S.D.