Deadline approaching for $3.4 billion Indian Trust Settlement - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deadline approaching for $3.4 billion Indian Trust Settlement

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Eligible individuals in a $3.4 billion Indian Trust Settlement are encouraged to respond by the April 20 deadline.

Class action Settlement, Cobell v. Salazar, a lawsuit regarding Indian land held in trust by the federal government. The lawsuit claims the federal government violated its duties by mismanaging trust funds and assets; improperly accounting for those funds; and mismanaging trust land and assets. The trust funds include revenue from farming and grazing leases, timber sales, mining and oil and gas production from land owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives.

There are two groups or "classes" in the settlement eligible for payment, the Historical Accounting Class and the Trust Administration Class. Each class includes individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders or owners of land held in trust or restricted status by the federal government for the benefit of individual Indians.

The settlement would provide the following:
* $1.5 billion fund to pay those included in the classes
* $1.5 billion fund to buy small interests in trust or restricted land
* Up to $60 million to fund scholarships to improve access to higher education for Indian youth
* A government commitment to reform the Indian trust management and accounting system.

Anyone who wishes to keep their right to sue the federal government about the claims in the settlement, must exclude themselves by April 20. Individuals who wish to remain in the settlement can object to or comment on it by April 20.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will hold a hearing on June 20 to consider whether to approve the settlement. It will also consider a request for attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses in the amount of $99.9 million.
For more information, call toll-free at 1-800-961-6109, go to the website, or write to Indian Trust Settlement, P.O. Box 9577, Dublin, OH 43017-4877.