What Is the Indian Trust Settlement?


Quick Answer

The Indian Trust settlement is the resolution of the class-action lawsuit Cobell v. Salazar, which was brought against the federal government of the United States by Native American plaintiffs. This lawsuit was filed in 1996, and an initial agreement was reached in 2009 for $3.4 billion, as noted by CNN. This lawsuit claimed that the United States' Department of the Interior mismanaged account monies held in trust for Native American beneficiaries.

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Full Answer

The Department of the Interior acts as trustee for Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. These funds are collected by this government agency from activities, such as the use of trust land for farming and grazing leases or mining, notesIndianTrust.com.

In 1996, acting on behalf of other American Indians entitled to money from IIM accounts, Elouise Cobell and other plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, which basically contended that the federal government was in breach of its responsibility of trust duties. This lawsuit is presently known as the Cobell v. Salazar case. It took nearly 14 years for a settlement to be reached. The settlement agreement entitles all plaintiffs in this lawsuit to receive their due portion of $1.5 billion. There are hundreds of thousands of Native Americans entitled to this settlement money, notes Reznet News. The remaining $1.9 billion is for the repurchasing of Indian lands, which is to be returned to different tribes.

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