Legislation authorizing the Cobell v Salazar settlement will be signed by President Barack Obama, Wednesday, December 8, at a signing ceremony at the White House, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee said Tuesday. The ceremony will begin at 5:30 PM.
Dorgan, who pushed hard for Congress to approve the settlement, is among those invited by the President to attend the signing ceremony.
"This is historic legislation," Dorgan said. "It not only closes the books on a shameful period of history for the federal government, it provides some long delayed justice to hundreds of thousands of Native Americans."
The settlement comes after almost 15 years of litigation in which federal courts found that the federal government -- for more than 100 years -- violated its trust obligations to American Indians by mismanaging, losing and sometimes even stealing monies it held in trust for American Indians. Nearly a year ago, plaintiffs and the federal government agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement. Congressional authorization and approval by the President were required.
The Settlement Agreement resolves the claims of individual Indians, Dorgan said. It also allows the Department of the Interior and Native Americans to move forward. Going forward, the Secretary of the Interior will also establish a Commission to reform how the Department manages trust assets for Native Americans. The Commission will help ensure that practices, which allowed the mismanagement and theft of Native American monies, are never repeated, Dorgan noted.