(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement after Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today approved a motion to begin distribution of payments awarded to individual Indians under the Cobell Settlement. This was the final legal step before beginning settlement payments to tribal members. Cobell v. Salazar was settled in 2009 after 13 years of litigation but individual Indians have had to wait years to receive their payments due to various appeals and delays. The original lawsuit, brought by Blackfeet Tribal member Elouise Cobell, accused the federal government of mismanaging Indian trust accounts for decades.
“This is welcome news for Indian Country. I am very pleased that payments will finally be made to tribal citizens who have waited decades for justice. The delay for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans was unacceptable, but folks will finally receive the restitution promised them,” Tester said.
Garden City Group will start sending checks to Trust Administration Class Members beginning next week.
Senator Tester held a hearing in July calling for the Garden City Group and the federal government to accelerate the distribution of these payments to tribal members. He also recently toured the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes with Department of Interior Secretary Jewell to discuss the land buy-back program.