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Indian Trust plaintiffs reject $7 billion US settlement offer

[JURIST] Native American plaintiffs in the decade-old Indian Trust case [Cobell v. Norton litigation website] have rejected a new $7 billion settlement proposal from the US government but the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee [official website] nonetheless says he will hold a hearing later this month to provide administration officials, plaintiffs, and representatives from other interested parties an opportunity to testify publicly on the settlement offer. Byron Dorgan [official website] (D-ND) says the government is admitting liability [press release], but Department of the Interior officials have disputed that interpretation. Native plaintiffs say that the offer does not go far enough, being "pennies on the dollar" in respect of the value of their claim, and that it goes too far in precluding further claims. AP has more.

The class-action Indian trust litigation involves the alleged mismanagement by the US Department of the Interior [official website] of American Indian money [DOI Indian Trust Fund website] - lease and sales revenues, permit fees and and interest - received and held for Native Americans by the US government over the last 120 years. In July, the Cobell plaintiffs said they might consider an $8 billion settlement [JURIST report], much lower than the $27.5 billion figure [JURIST report] that the plaintiffs demanded for settlement in 2005.

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