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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Native Americans claiming compesation

Top leftt: Native American Casino, Top right: Nigerian oil gas flares, Top: Zimbabwe Farm. Let it be known that I claim not the above pictures as my own.

It's peculiar, land issues in America and Africa. Think Zimbabwe or the Nigerian Coast, if you will. I don't think people see the similarities in the plight of the African and Native American. It's as if we're on different planets when you read the history books and then listen to the media. I will watch closely as events unfold in the story below...

"WASHINGTON (AFP) - A judge has hinted he would not award Native Americans the 46 billion dollars they have demanded in a lawsuit charging the US government cheated them out of profits from land held in trust since the 1800s. After hearing closing arguments that followed a 12-year marathon legal battle, US District Judge James Robertson on Wednesday indicated he was not ready to endorse an amount in the tens of billions of dollars as argued by lawyers representing the Native American plaintiffs. The judge said he believed what was in dispute was whether the remedy should be in the millions or billions, or "10 digits or nine digits."
Lawyers for the Native Americans said the government had failed to pay out tens of billion dollars in oil, timber, mineral and grazing royalties from lands held in trust by the Department of Interior since 1887.
"Today, 500,000 Native Americans look to Washington with hope," plaintiffs' lawyer William Dorris told the court.
"They are not asking for a handout. They are simply asking for what is theirs."
Judge Robertson said an absence of reliable figures made it difficult to arrive at an equitable amount for the American Indians.
"There is very little hard data on which to base an award that covers 120 years" of collections and disbursements, he said.
Saying he would issue a ruling sometime in August, Robertson asked both legal teams in the meantime to provide more concrete suggestions in writing as to how to calculate an award.
A government lawyer told the court the Native Americans could not support their 46-billion-dollar claim with facts or reliable figures, and said that several hundred million might be owed at most.
The plaintiffs had "failed to provide a credible case" and had relied on an expert witness who used "unfounded assumptions" to come up with estimates employing "selective" data, said government attorney Robert Kirschman.
In an earlier opinion in January at the outset of the trial, the judge said a lack of adequate accounting of trust money did "not mean that a just resolution of this dispute is hopeless."
He wrote that "a remedy must be found for the (Interior) Department's unrepaired, and irreparable, breach of its fiduciary duty over the last century."
Federal courts have previously ruled against the government in related cases, ordering the Interior Department to fix how it managed Indian trust accounts after an audit exposed shoddy bookkeeping.
The origins of the trusts date back to a notorious policy launched in the late 1800s that was designed to assimilate Native Americans and turn them into farmers.
Their land was divided up into individual parcels and held in temporary trust. The policy eventually evolved into a permanent trust, in which Indians were supposed to be paid any royalties from the land.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Elouise Cobell of the Black Foot Indian Tribe in Montana, said US banks would never be allowed under the law to carelessly manage trust accounts the way the government handled the Indians' money over the past century.
And she said the figure put forward in her lawsuit was based on "conservative" estimates, using what government records were available.
"People have not gotten paid," Cobell told AFP. "I think the government is getting a very good deal." "

1 comment:

Tayanie said...

Am loving this blog!!!