Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 17, 2006
Martha Stewart’s 2004 trial generated non-stop media coverage 24/7, but how many have heard of Cobell vs. Norton, the largest class action suit ever filed against the United States Government for the mismanagement of billions of dollars held in trust for over 500,000 American Indians? Both parties involved admit that $13 billion has passed through the trust in 118 yrs. When you add interest and inflation the numbers increase exponentially. It’s estimated that between $40 and $176 billion is owed Indian beneficiaries of the Indian Trust Fund.
In 1887, the United States government enacted the Dawes Act, a policy to divide tribal lands among the tribe’s individual members. It broke up Indian reservations, parceled out millions of acres of land to American Indian families and promised to manage the land. The government established the Indian Trust Fund to oversee the revenues collected from oil, gas, timber and grazing leases.
But for 119 years the Department of Interior has failed to live up to that trust by engaging in a “shocking pattern of deception,” according to Federal Judge Royce Lamberth. Billions of dollars belonging to one of the most impoverished people in America remain unaccounted for.
Elouise Cobell: 1n 1996, sixty eight years after a General Accounting Office first reported the widespread mismanagement of the Indian trust system, Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe together with attorney Dennis Gingold and the Native American Rights Fund filed the largest class action suit ever filed against the United States Departments of Interior and Treasury for the mismanagement of Indian Trust Funds. Elouise is fighting for the rights of those among the poorest in our nation. One in three lives in poverty and unemployment rates are as high as 80% on some reservations. They have survived broken promises, injustices, the loss of their land, their people and the government’s systematic attempt to destroy them.
Broken Promises: Indian Trust is an upcoming documentary film by Melinda Janko, Fire in the Belly Productions, which tells the story about the relationship between the United States government and American Indians. The film takes us inside the lives of Indian beneficiaries who own some of the richest land in the world, yet live in abject poverty. Windowless shacks with no running water or electricity reveal the reality of life for 21st century American Indian beneficiaries.
Elouise Cobell and Melinda Janko are available for interviews.
For Further Information Contact:
Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. (323) 874-2933