A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
Comments on the Vote
Cobell Settlement Passes the House and the Senate in Lame DuckSeveral statements have been released following of the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, which included the Cobell Settlement. Four are included below:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2010
Statement by the President on House Passage of the Claims Settlement Act of 2010
I am pleased that today, the House has joined the Senate in passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010. This important legislation will fund the agreements reached in the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers, and the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans over the management of Indian trust accounts and resources. I want to thank Attorney General Holder and Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack for all their work to reach this outcome, and I applaud Congress for acting in a bipartisan fashion to bring this painful chapter in our nation’s history to a close.
This bill also provides funding for settlements reached in four separate water rights suits brought by Native American tribes, and it represents a significant step forward in addressing the water needs of Indian Country. Yet, while today’s vote demonstrates important progress, we must remember that much work remains to be done. And my Administration will continue our efforts to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers and others in a fair and timely manner.
The White House Blog
Fulfilling Our Promise in Indian Country
Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on November 30, 2010 at 04:41 PM EST
Two years ago, President Barack Obama vowed that this administration would work with Native Americans to empower tribal governments, fulfill our trust responsibilities to tribal members and help tribal leaders build safer, stronger, healthier and more prosperous communities.
Today we took a giant step toward fulfilling that promise with Congressional approval of five major settlements for Indian country that are nothing short of historic.
First, Congress has authorized the Cobell settlement, an agreement that will resolve the 14-year, highly contentious class action lawsuit regarding the U.S. government's trust management and accounting of individual American Indian trust accounts. The settlement honorably and responsibly addresses long-standing injustices and demonstrates President Obama's commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for Indian nations.
The settlement also establishes a $1.9 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests to address the continued proliferation of thousands of new trust accounts caused by the division of land interests through succeeding generations and for other trust related activities. The land consolidation program will provide individual Indians with an opportunity to consolidate and transfer divided ownership interests to their tribal governments, where they will remain in trust for the benefit of tribal communities. Individual Indians will receive cash payments for these transfers and, as an additional incentive, transfers will trigger government payments into a $60 million Indian scholarship fund.
Second, Congress approved four Indian water rights settlements - totaling more than $1 billion - that will deliver clean drinking water to tribes in New Mexico, Arizona and Montana. For these communities, the permanent water supply will offer economic security and end decades of water allocation controversy and contention among neighboring communities.
Administration support for four water rights settlements in a single Congress is unprecedented. The settlements reflect the willingness of the parties, including state, tribal and other stakeholders, as well as this administration's commitment, to work together constructively rather than stay locked in an endless cycle of litigation.
The Obama administration is making progress along a wide front in fulfilling the president's pledge to our First Americans, investing hundreds of millions of recovery dollars in new schools and roads, strengthening tribal law enforcement, improving Indian education and speeding land into trust to expand tribal resource bases.
But there is no doubt that much work remains. That is why President Obama announced that he is hosting a second White House Tribal Nations Conference December 16 to build upon our commitment to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country.
Native Americans must be full partners in our nation's economy, thrive in safe communities, and have equal access to quality education and health care.
Step by step - as with the passage of Cobell and the four historic water rights settlements - we are getting there.
Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the Interior
Statement from Eloise Cobell
Dear Indian Country
This is the sixteenth letter in a series of open letters that I’m sending to Indian Country. The purpose of this letter is to update you about the settlement.
As I stated in my last Ask Elouise letter of November 22, 2010, the Senate passed the Cobell Settlement as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. Since that time, I and our Representatives have been advocating for the successful passage of our settlement to members of the House and their staffs. While never free from doubt, the House passed the implementing legislation on two separate occasions this year, so we have been optimistic that passage could happen before the close of this Congress.
On Tuesday, November 30, 2010, the House took up consideration of the Claims Resolution Act, and subsequently passed the legislation. The bill now awaits the President’s signature to become law.
I am extending my personal appreciation to every Member (and his or her staff) of the United States House of Representatives who voted for our legislation. Special thanks go to: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA); Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD); Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (WV), Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus Dale Kildee (MI), Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus Tom Cole (OK), Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (WI) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (MI).
It is my understanding that the President plans to sign the legislation into law sometime next week. Upon signing, enactment will be complete. Thereafter, we expect the judge to consider whether to grant preliminary approval of the settlement. If he preliminarily determines that the settlement is generally fair, you will be sent notice in the coming months about the terms of settlement. This notice will describe your rights and obligations under the settlement. You should take care to read all notices carefully. In the next Ask Elouise letter, I will describe this process in more detail.
Prior Ask Elouise letters can be found on the settlement website: http://cobellsettlement.com/class/ask_elouise.php. We also have a "frequently asked questions" section which includes the most common questions we've received as well as questions and answers from prior Ask Elouise letters: http://cobellsettlement.com/press/faq.php. With so many members of the class, I can't answer every question that you send.
The most common question I receive every week relates to whether a particular person is included in this settlement. Unfortunately, I do not have that information. The settlement agreement provides general guidelines (see also http://cobellsettlement.com/press/faq.php), but I also understand that many of you have unique or unusual circumstances, which make it unclear to me whether you are included in the settlement class. For those of you who still have questions, I recommend that you register to receive all Court-ordered communications to ensure you do not miss important information. There is no need to register if you are receiving a quarterly IIM statement. The Court ultimately will determine who is included in this settlement. Registration information can be found at the end of this and every Ask Elouise letter.
If you are not currently receiving an IIM statement from the government, please remember to register for correspondence over the Internet or by calling the number below.
If you have a question, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise you can send me a letter to the address below. To expedite the processing of your letters our contractor has set up a post office box in Ohio, but I assure you this letter is coming from me and I will see your letters.
PO Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877
Thank you and keep your questions coming!
National Congress of American Indians
Tribal Water Rights Settlements also Headed to President for Signature into Federal Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 30, 2010 – In a historic vote today, the United States House of Representatives passed the $3.4 billion Cobell Settlement as part of H.R. 4783 (correction), the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 now moves to President Obama’s desk for signature.
“The passage of the Cobell Settlement is a significant milestone in the history of American Indian relations with United States government,” said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. “Not only does Cobell settle historic injustices through legal means, it starts the U.S. government on a course for meeting its obligations and making reservation lands more productive for future generations. We commend the bipartisan effort from members of the House and Senate who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation.”
The Cobell settlement resolves the long running class action litigation over mismanagement of Indian trust funds. It also includes payment for resource mismanagement and funds for consolidation of fractionated lands. The case has been pending since 1996.
In press releases, following statements on the House floor, both Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), outlined the importance of passing the Cobell Settlement as part of the Claims Resolutions Act of 2010.
"This legislation brings a fair and responsible resolution to the Cobell case and is a great bargain for American taxpayers,” said Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), Co-Chairman of the Native American Caucus. “The Cobell settlement helps correct a historic wrong and ensures that Native Americans enjoy the full benefit of tribal lands and resources. The bill is fully paid for and will save taxpayers millions in additional costly litigation.”
"These settlements have been reached in court, and now it is our job to ensure that the federal government lives up to its end of the bargain," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD). "I’m glad that this bill funds the Pigford and Cobell settlements without adding to the deficit; and I’m also glad that this bill can bring to a close an unfortunate chapter in our history."
In recent weeks, the Cobell Settlement moved forward rapidly in the Senate as budget neutral legislation, after lingering for the last year in both houses. Unresolved for fourteen years, the settlement was part of a number of historic measures included in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. In addition to the Cobell Settlement, historic water settlements vital to Indian Country, totaling over $1 billion, were passed as part H.R. 4387. The water settlements involved the Crow Tribe, Taos Pueblo, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and the Aamodt Settlement including the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso and Tesuque.