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February 26, 2008


Wanita Glover Smith

I don't see any current information on this class action law suit. Can you tell me something current. Last I read was that a judge was removed from the case. Thank you.

Bill McAllister


WASHINGTON, March 20 -- Lawyers in a 12-year-old class action lawsuit
say that the 500,000 beneficiaries of the government's century-old
Indian Trust are entitled to $58 billion in restitution because of the
government's breach of trust to the Indians.
The government was unjustly enriched by unlawfully holding of the
Indians' money, the lawyers said.
The statement comes in a filing made late yesterday in the Cobell
versus Kempthorne lawsuit, a lawsuit that has challenged the
government's acknowledged mismanagement of trust accounts that were
established in 1887 to handle the proceeds from the leases of Indian
lands, mostly in the West.
On Jan. 30, U.S. District Judge James Robertson held that the
government was unable to perform the accounting that it had long
promised to the Indian trust beneficiaries.
He then called for proceedings to determine an alternative remedy
that would cure the Interior Department's "unrepaired and irreparable
breach of its fiduciary duty over the last century."
The new filing was in response to the judge's Jan. 30 ruling. It
represented the plaintiffs' effort to find a remedy that will
vindicate the Indian trust beneficiaries for the government's actions.
In the filing, lawyers for the Indian plaintiffs says that the
federal government's breach of the
Indian Trust carries a $58 billion price tag. That represents the
"accumulated savings" that the government has secured
through its mishandling of funds that should have been promptly deposited in
individual Indian Trust accounts, the lawyers said.
Using "very conservative" figures derived from the government's own
reports, the plaintiffs lawyers provided an estimate of how
much the government should have to pay to an estimated 500,000 Native
Americans for the mismanagement of their lands and money.
The lawyers had promised the judge they would use the government's
figures to give him a more defensible estimate of how much money
failed to reached the Indians.
"We believe that our numbers are very conservative and represent the
minimum harm that
Indians have suffered under our broken trust system," said Elouise Cobell,
a member of the Blackfeet Nation from Montana. She is the lead plaintiff in
the class action lawsuit, filed in 1996.
Judge Robertson has set a trial on the issue of how to resolve the
government breach of trust to the Indians for June 9, saying he wants to end
the lawsuit this summer. Earlier, he rejected the government's plan for an
historical accounting, saying that those plans would not work.
The entire text of the new filing is available at

For additional information (media calls only) Bill McAllister 202-257-5385

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