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BIA Gets an 'F' for Handling of Cobell Settlement

Jay Daniels
12/12/13

This is report card on the manner in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs have managed the Cobell settlement since it was approved in November 2011. Case in point, the second round of the Cobell payments were scheduled for August or September 2013. Now the date has changed to early spring 2014 and most likely March 2014.

The problem with this is that the Trustee Bank will earn more interest off of the deposit and it won’t probably be distributed to the Indian account owners. It looks like a ploy for the Trustee to earn more money. All the while Indian folks are going into winter and need their money to pay for heating costs and Christmas.

I have said since the beginning this was a bad deal. I stand by my opinion that the Settlement was not good for Indian Country. Some gained but many lost.

Individual Indians are going to lose in the end. My article, “Interior Annouces Cobell Settlement Is Final—Enjoy the Moment!,” stated my thoughts about the settlement. I said this would happen and it is happening.

Now they are still trying to implement the Indian Land Buy Back Program and still haven’t helped tribes acquire any interest. They have ten years to complete the project and they are still having meetings on how to accomplish the project. They are met in Billings, MT to try and figure out how to make their presentations to Individual Indian land owners and tribes. Wow, ten years to complete and they have wasted two years since the time clock started. We will see how this goes. They have hired folks to manage the programs who are placed in regions where they have the lowest fractionated interest merely to advance their careers. They have reduced the tribes participation to merely advocating and promoting, or as they call it…outreach, the land buy back program.

Some folks think I am a bitter ex-employee. No, I’m not a landowner. But I was a former BIA employee who worked hard for tribes and individual Indians to make life better, and I know how it works. Friends help friends in the BIA.

It’s just atrocious that Christmas and the holiday season is upon us and everything should have been accomplished so that you could have a little better holiday. But it’s not going to happen. Yes I’m disgusted, but only for those who have been waiting for their promised payment. Since the beginning of our relationship with the U.S., we have been given promises which sometimes never happen but yet we are expected to comply with our treaties.

Tribes need to take the BIA to task on these issues and demand that this payment be completed and that the Buy Back Program progress more quickly than it has so far. There’s only eight years left to spend the $1.9 billion dollars plus all interest it has accrued in the past two years and all interest accruing before the balance is expended. That’s just my opinion, but these are things to think about and discuss. The non-acting promises need to stop.

The end result is that the BIA has worked hard to earn an F on their report card for mismanaging this simple subject. When you take two years to implement a program which only has a ten year shelf life, it is definitely apparent that they don’t know what they are doing.

Jay Daniels has 30 years of experience working in Indian Country, managing trust lands and is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. You can find resources and information at http://roundhousetalk.com.

 

 

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Anonymous's picture
I called the 800 number and gave them my two cents on this also and ended with do you guys even care?! Why? Why, are you holding this? The Lakota people need this at this time of the year. BUT I did not get a response, only a response when it will be paid out, this person was acted she, was programmed like a robot too!! Thanks Daniel for bringing this up!
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
our people have been getting the shaft forhundreds of years!
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I've long considered that the delay in payments has been a way to earn interest the trustee bank could keep. Do we even know what will happen to the interest, our interest?
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I would like to know why the BIA in Belcourt (Turtle Mountains) changed my account number on my Indian ID before this so called settlement. My deceased dad and living mother own plenty of land in Montana, Just because he left his to my mother does not mean that she will not leave hers to her children. I can even get that in writing, why shouldn't myself and siblings get this Cobell as well?
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Great article jay keep it up maybe our tribal councils will all get on the same page and all go to d.c to lobby congress to pressure bia to get this out. Most white people think this cobell has been paid out.
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I really don't think it is right, when they say you will get your money, and then turn around and they change, when people are waiting, and all excited, and dependent upond it
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
now I have a better concept and understanding about this settlement!like many natives folks I was looking forward to this for the holidays..Just complete disappointment!
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Still waiting for my check ,,,a belknap native ,!!!,mt
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
my family lost over 4 hundred acres of land. my farther died without a will in 1959 leaving a wife and 7 children. this land was sold without the bia approval. who do we contact to recover our land?
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
This is not a brand new concept!!! Do not ever trust the BIA they never do their jobs properly nor do they do it according to the best interests of the tribal members , as with all government offices it's call the trickle down effect and that's what we will receive Nothing....................................... All those billions sitting in accounts and we can't get them because we are 2 tribes and it is for the Cheyenne People only really? What a bunch of crap there are tribal rolls with the tribe and blood quantum on them and the govt can't even read well enough to divide???????????? this settlement was a farce to begin with WHEN we get any money the actual value will drop so far down it won't matter. Not only that we are receiving almost ZERO on leases now, my biggest checks are like 10.00. So what's new? We continue to bend over and take it without a kiss as usual we can't fight the BIA and we can't even get legal issues resolved due to their laziness and the fact that there is nothing in it for them.
Anonymous

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