Indian Trust Settlement Delayed
On June 20 of this year, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. approved a settlement for the historic class action lawsuit Cobell v. Salazar. This approval ended a lawsuit that began over 15 years ago, on June 10, 1996. The disbursal of the settlement checks to plaintiffs was to begin in September.
Now, to my chagrin, the disbursal has been delayed due to an appeal, filed by a nonclass objector, Kimberly Craven. Despite her years of arousing plaintiffs to object to the lawsuit, only 10 plaintiffs showed up to the settlement hearing to air their objections. This week, documents of the appeal were posted on the "Indian Trust" website portal. Now, until Craven presents good cause to the court, and her appeal is adjudicated, the money owed to the plaintiffs will sit idle until at least October. The other two components of the settlement, land consolidation funding and scholarship funding, will also sit idle.
It appears that Ms. Craven's crusade is one that is strictly personal; to add insult, she isn't even party to the lawsuit. If she's out to help someone, she is only helping herself, and not the plaintiffs who have included the settlement money as part of their expected income this year. Why she didn't air her objections in person at the June 20 hearing, only illustrates her selfish insensitivity to plaintiffs.
- D. G. Littlewolf Spencer Bozeman
Copyright © 2011 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved.