theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

January 27, 2011

Indian Trust Settlement to affect 500,000 individuals

Ada — By Justin Lofton

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An estimated 500,000 Indians across the nation should soon be notified of the $3.4 billion class action settlement they may qualify to receive money from after court case Cobell v. Salazar.

“The settlement resolves claims related to Individual Indian Money (or IIM) accounts and land held in trust by the federal government for the benefit of individual Indians,” said a press release from www.indiantrust.com.  “The settlement resolves the government’s failure to provide an historical accounting for IIM accounts and also resolves claims that the government mismanaged funds and other trust assets, including royalties owed to individual Indians for oil, gas, grazing, and other leases of individual Indian lands, mostly in the West.”

A $1.5 billion fund to compensate individual Indians is set up by the settlement.  Indians eligible to receive funds from the settlement include the Historical Accounting Class and Trust Administration Class.

“The Historical Accounting Class comprises individual Indians who were alive on Sept. 30, 2009, who had an open IIM account anytime between Oct. 25, 1994 and Sept. 30, 2009, and whose account had at least one cash transaction,” the release said.  “The Trust Administration Class comprises individual Indians alive on Sept. 30, 2009, who had an IIM Account at any time from 1985 through Sept. 30, 2009, recorded in currently available electronic data in federal government systems, as well as individual Indians who, as of Sept. 30, 2009, had a recorded or demonstrable interest in land held in trust or restricted status.”

The release also said estates of deceased class members may also be entitled to funds from the settlement.

“Current estimates project that most Class Members will receive about $1,800, with some Class Members receiving much more depending on the level of activity in their IIM accounts,” the release said.  “Class Members who receive a formal notice in the mail about the settlement and who are currently receiving IIM account statements do not have to do anything to receive payment.”

Individuals who do not receive these notices or are unsure as to whether this settlement affects them are instructed fill out a Claim Form at www.indiantrust.com.  For more information, visit the website or call 1-800-961-6109.

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