After 14 years standing toe-to-toe with
the federal government in an attempt to recover billions of dollars of squandered Indian trust money, a Montana woman may finally see a $3.4 billion settlement that could be approved by Congress this month.
Elouise Cobell's class-action lawsuit represents at least
300,000 Indians from almost every state whose land is held in trust by the federal government. The Department of Interior leases that land to others to farm or develop resources, and by agreement is supposed to pay the Indians the money generated by the land into individual trust accounts.
The suit alleges the government mismanaged Indians' trust
assets, swindling them out of billions of dollars in royalty
payments. It was filed in 1996 by Cobell, of the Blackfeet tribe.