Cobell v. Salazar Heads for Settlement after 14 Years

This email arrived from Elouise Cobell late yesterday afternoon.

As I stated in my last Ask Elouise letter of November 22, 2010, the Senate passed the Cobell Settlement as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. Since that time, I and our Representatives have been advocating for the successful passage of our settlement to members of the House and their staffs. While never free from doubt, the House passed the implementing legislation on two separate occasions this year, so we have been optimistic that passage could happen before the close of this Congress.

On Tuesday, November 30, 2010, the House took up consideration of the Claims Resolution Act, and subsequently passed the legislation. The bill now awaits the President’s signature to become law.

I am extending my personal appreciation to every Member (and his or her staff) of the United States House of Representatives who voted for our legislation. Special thanks go to: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA); Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD); Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (WV), Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus Dale Kildee (MI), Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus Tom Cole (OK), Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (WI) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (MI).

It is my understanding that the President plans to sign the legislation into law sometime next week. Upon signing, enactment will be complete. Thereafter, we expect the judge to consider whether to grant preliminary approval of the settlement.

The president hasn’t signed the legislation yet. The judge hasn’t approved. But it is hard to imagine that either will not happen. It will have been done dirty, the way all legislation is, it will be 3.2 billion dollars instead of the roughly 100 billion it should have been, and it will not be the public, significant and symbolic reckoning with the legacy of conquest, genocide, and abuse that the nation still needs to make, but it will be one historic 123-year old irritant removed. What specifically remains, beyond the settlement terms, is for paternalistic federal interference in direct Native ownership and financial management of American Indian lands to come to an end.

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