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Federal judge blasts DOI, orders admission to Indians that trust info unreliable

[JURIST] US District Judge Royce Lamberth [official profile] blasted the US Interior Department Tuesday and ordered it to admit to American Indian plaintiffs [Indian Trust website] that information being provided to them regarding outstanding lost royalties on earnings from Indian land may be unreliable, calling the Department's handling of a trust fund [DOI Indian Trust Fund website] the "oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago." Lamberth's vitriolic opinion [link to text, PDF] left little doubt as to his views on the ongoing Corbell v. Norton litigation for an adequate accounting: "one would expect, or at least hope, that the modern Interior Department and its modern administrators would manage it in a way that reflects our modern understandings of how the government should treat people." The judge ordered the DOI notice to accompany letters being sent informing individuals that they may be members of a class action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Eloise Cobell. She claims that the government owes over $27 billion to over 300,000 American Indians from a trust fund formed in 1887 to pay royalties for timber, gas, oil, and grazing. Lamberth has previously held current fund administrator Secretary Gale Norton [DOJ profile] and her predecessor Bruce Babbitt [Wikipedia profile] in contempt of court for failing to produce factual information on amounts owed. AP has more.

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