Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
ALBUQUERQUE - Associate Deputy Secretary Meghan Conklin, Principal Deputy Special Trustee Ray Joseph Tuesday were in Albuquerque, NM for the fourth of six regional government-to-government tribal consultations regarding the Trust Land Consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement. The meetings with tribal leaders are a part of the Obama Administration's commitment to re-invigorating nation-to-nation relationships with tribes.
"The consultations are integral to helping provide us with necessary information that we can use to construct an implementation strategy that benefits all of the tribal communities involved," said Associate Deputy Secretary Conklin. "The government-to-government consultations are allowing for positive rapport with the tribes."
Ray A. Joseph, Principal Deputy Special Trustee, Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, expressed that "Regional Tribal Consultations are vital to the success of the trust land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, and fulfills the government-to-government relationship with Tribes."
Tuesday's participants included leaders and representatives of a number of tribes from the Southwest Region and other Regions.
On May 27, 2011, US Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan granted communication between representatives of the United States and Cobell class members only in regards to the Trust Land Consolidation component of the Settlement.
The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement was approved by Congress on November 30, 2010 (Claims Resolution Act of 2010) and signed by President Obama on December 8, 2010. The Cobell Settlement will address the Federal Government's responsibility for an historical accounting of Individual Indian trust accounts and trust mismanagement claims on behalf of more than 300,000 individual Indians. A fund of $1.5 billion will be used to compensate class members for their historical accounting, trust administration and asset mismanagement claims.
In addition, to address the continued proliferation of thousands of new trust accounts caused by the "fractionation" of land interests through succeeding generations, the Settlement establishes a $1.9 billion fund for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests. The land consolidation program will provide individual American Indians with an opportunity to obtain cash payments for divided land interests and free up the land for the benefit of tribal communities. Up to $60 million of the $1.9 billion will be set aside to provide scholarships for post secondary higher education and vocational training for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
posted September 28, 2011 7:30 am edt
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