2012-05-09 / Front Page

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Accepts Multi-Million Settlement Agreement for Tribal Trust Accounting Claims Against the U.S. Department of the Interior From the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Office of the President Rodney M. Bordeaux

ROSEBUD, SD – On April 13, 2012 the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council voted to approve a settlement offer from the U.S. Government to settle the Tribe’s trust accounting claims against the Department of Interior. The case, Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. Salazar, was brought against the Department of Interior to pursue claims of mismanagement by the U.S. Government regarding administration of the Tribe’s trust assets. The settlement concludes over 9 years of litigation.

The terms of the settlement are limited only to claims arising from mismanagement of trust assets held by the Tribe, and do not reflect individual’s claims. Not included in the settlement are the Tribe’s claims against the U.S. Government for: Water rights and resources; Treaty, hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, and; Black Hills and any related treaty claims. The Indian Claims Commission Act (commonly referred to as ICC) bars any claims accruing prior to 1946. Indian Trust Management Reform Act of 1994 created the right to sue for accounting mismanagement.

“We are glad that we can put this small portion of our legal claims against the Government behind us. The Tribe negotiated a far higher dollar amount than was originally proposed and the Government acted in good faith,” said President Bordeaux. :It is also important that the Black Hills claims, 1851 and 1868 Treaty claims, our water rights, and other land theft claims were not included in the settlement, as that would have been absolutely unacceptablewe have reserved our right to continue to fight for our land and to enforce our treaties.”

The Cobell case was similar to this case only to the extent that the Indian Trust Reform Act of 1994 gave the individual IIM account holder and the Tribe a right to sue for mismanagement of the trust accounts. The Tribe's case is not a class action, however, like the Cobell case was and as a result the Tribe's settlement agreement is far more generous. The Tribe's case stands on its' own merits and is more comparable to an individual tribal member opting out of the Cobell case and litigating his or her case in the courts. “The vast majority of our Tribal members have decided, by not opting out of the Cobell settlement, to accept their individual settlements.” said Bordeaux. “One major difference between the Tribe's settlement and the individual claims, is that the Tribe has not given up its right to sue for future mismanagement, and that is important to preserving our Tribe's treaty rights and sovereignty.”

Continuing to pursue litigation would have carried the case on for another decade or more and cost millions in litigation related fees, with no guarantee that the Tribe would receive a higher dollar amount. The Tribe is presently working with the U.S. Government to finalize the settlement agreement. The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council discussed at length whether or not a trial would end in the Tribe's favor. and the likelihood of a favorable verdict being overturned by the United States Supreme Court, a Court that has proven to be unsympathetic on Indian Law issues. Settlement funding will be used improve to support and improve essential governmental functions of the Tribe.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is a federally recognized tribe and part of the Great Sioux Nation. Tribal citizenship numbers over 28, 000 Tribal members and the Tribe possesses over 900,000 acres of land across five counties in south-central South Dakota.

Recent press releases disclosing varying settlement amounts reflect the differences the trust resources ownership, what amount of money went through the tribal accounts and how the government mismanaged those tribal accounts. Some Tribes having oil, mineral resources, timber resources, and other assets received larger settlements because there was more mismanagement because more money went through their accounts and therefore more mismanagement. Some Tribes received substantially less in settlement because less money went through their accounts as a result of lack of natural resources or the fact that such resources were not developed.

The results of the roll call vote was as follows: Scott Herman, Antelope. Yes; Russell Eagle Bear, Black Pipe. Absent; Todd J. Bear Shield. Bull Creek. Absent.; Opal Larvie Maxey, Butte Creek .No: Arlene R. Black Bear. Corn Creek, Yes: Lydia Whirlwind Soldier. Grass Mountain, No; Royal Yellow Hawk, He Dog, Absent Webster Two Hawk, Horse Creek, Yes; Gabriel A. Medicine Eagle, Ideal, Absent; William Bear Shield, Milk's Camp, Absent; Steven Denoyer, Jr., O'kreek, Yes: Robert Shot With Two Arrows, Parmalee, Yes; Patricia Douville. Ring Thunder, Yes; Lenard Wright, Rosebud, No; Dennis "Charlie" Spotted Tail. Soldier Creek Yes; Pam Kills in Water, Spring Creek, Yes; John Swift, St. Francis. Absent; Delano Clairmont Swift Bear, No; Antoine "Tony" Metcalf, Two Strike, Yes; Kathleen A. High Pipe. Upper Cut Meat, Yes; 10 in favor, 4 Against, 0 abstain, 6 Absent; MOTION CARRIED.

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