Tribal Leaders from BIA Great Plains and Other Regions Consult with Indian Affairs Officials About Cobell Trust Land Consolidation Program
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs for Policy and Economic Development Jodi Gillette and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Director Michael Black met with tribal leaders in Rapid City, S.D., today in the final regional government-to-government tribal consultation meeting on the Trust Land Consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement. The consultations are part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to re-invigorating nation-to-nation relationships with tribes.
“The Interior Department’s consultations with Indian Country have been pivotal sources of information,” said Gillette. “I want to thank all of the tribal leaders for providing their invaluable input regarding this landmark case as we move forward to fulfill the obligations of the Cobell Settlement.”
“I am pleased to have seen the close collaboration with the tribes,” said Black. “All of the tribal comments from these sessions have been very helpful and continue to strengthen our government-to-government relationship.”
Today’s participants included leaders and representatives of a number of tribes from the BIA’s Great Plains and other Regions.
On May 27, 2011, U.S. Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan granted communication between representatives of the United States and Cobell class members only in regards to the Trust Land Consolidation component of the Settlement.
BACKGROUND ON COBELL SETTLEMENT:
The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement was approved by Congress on November 30, 2010 (Claims Resolution Act of 2010) and signed by President Obama on December 8, 2010. The Cobell Settlement will address
the federal government’s responsibility for an historical accounting of individual Indian trust accounts and
trust mismanagement claims on behalf of more than 300,000 individual American Indians. A fund of $1.5
billion will be used to compensate class members for their historical accounting, trust administration and asset mismanagement claims.
In addition, to address the continued proliferation of thousands of new trust accounts caused by the "fractionation" of land interests through successive generations, the Settlement establishes a $1.9 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests. The land consolidation program will provide individual American Indians with an opportunity to obtain cash payments for divided trust land interests and free up the land for the benefit of tribal communities. Up to $60 million of the $1.9 billion will be set aside to provide scholarships for post secondary higher education and vocational training for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
More information about the regional tribal consultations can be found at: http://www.doi.gov/cobell.
The Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs discharges the duties of the Secretary of the Interior with the authority and direct responsibility to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with the nation’s 565 federally recognized tribes, advocate policies that support Indian self-determination, protect and preserve Indian trust assets, and administer a wide array of laws, regulations and functions relating to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, tribal members and individual trust beneficiaries. The Assistant Secretary oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education. For more information, visit http://www.indianaffairs.gov.