Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 1:30pm EST, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and other senior members of the Obama Administration will join tribal leaders to announce a significant step forward in the resolution of tribal trust cases pending against the United States. Many of the cases include claims by the tribes that go back over 100 years. Tomorrow’s event will recognize the good-faith cooperation and hard work of the Administration and 41 American Indian tribes in working out fair and honorable resolutions of the tribes’ claims.
The resolution of longstanding disputes is a key pillar of President Obama’s record for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 2010, the Administration settled the $760 million Keepseagle case brought by Native American farmers and ranchers who alleged discrimination by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its administration of loan programs. President Obama also signed into law the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, which included the Cobell settlement agreement resolving a lawsuit over the management and accounting of over 300,000 individual American Indian trust accounts. The Claims Resolution Act also included four water rights settlements, benefitting seven tribes in Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.
Most recently, in October 2011, the Administration reached a $380 million settlement with the Osage Nation over the tribe’s long-standing lawsuit regarding the government’s management of trust funds and non-monetary trust resources. That settlement featured, among other things, prospective management measures designed to further improve the trust relationship between the tribe and the United States.
Tomorrow’s event will mark another key step forward in the Administration’s efforts to resolve the disputes that have clouded the shared history of the United States and Indian tribes. Please join us on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 1:30pm on www.WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Charlie Galbraith is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.