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Green Party LogoGreens back Indian Trust lawsuit against Interior Department over billions in broken obligations, mismanaged funds, and appropriated natural resources


For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders and candidates expressed support for an ongoing class-action lawsuit to force the US Interior Department to account for billions of dollars owed to Native Americans since the late 19th century.

"Since the 1880s, the US government has failed to make good on its promise to provide Native Americans payment for mining, oil and gas extraction, timber, and grazing on their homelands. It's time for the US to reverse hundreds of years of broken treaties and stolen resources, account for the breach of Indian Trust obligations, and restore honesty," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (12th District) .

Filed in 1996, Cobell v. Norton (later renamed Cobell v. Kempthorne) addresses funds belonging to about a half million Native Americans and their heirs. In 1999, Judge Royce Lamberth held Clinton Administration officials (especially Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin) in contempt of court for stonewalling, destruction of documents, and misrepresentations before the court.

More recently, the US Court of Appeals sided with the federal government and removed Judge Lamberth from the case, rejecting the judge's findings of evasion and malfeasance and his charges of racism.

The Bush Administration is now taking steps to limit the government's liability and to ensure that only 1.3% of the trust accounts are reconciled, which means only a tiny fraction of those covered under the trust plan might see some form of restitution.

Greens, calling on the Bush Administration to honor the financial debt of the US government to Native Americans, also expressed frustration with the White House's recent violations of treaties and agreements.

"Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is taking action to limit drastically the scope of payments owed to Native Americans. He's trying to get his department off the hook on its obligation to account for the historical theft of billions of dollars when white-owned firms were allowed to profit from natural resources on Indian land. His actions are consistent with the Bush Administration's refusal to honor numerous treaties signed by the US, from the Kyoto Accords to the Geneva prohibitions against torture," said Rebecca Rotzler, an Alaskan Native, a former co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, and an elected Green.

For further details, background information, and recent news on Cobell v. Kempthorne, see:

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne

"Interior again shifts duty to account for Indian trust,", December 5, 2007

Justice Department documents

Findlaw page


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