Native Americans who want to know if they qualify to receive part of the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement now have a website and a toll-free phone number to answer their questions.
"The court-ordered process is now spreading the word so individual Indian trust account holders can understand what their rights are and how they can participate in the settlement," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Now is the time for those who want to know their rights under the Cobell settlement to call the 1-800 number or go to the IndianTrust.com website.
When finalized, the Cobell settlement will resolve the long-running and highly contentious class action lawsuit brought by Native Americans over the federal government's trust management and accounting of individual Indian money accounts.
Class members who are known by the Interior Department will get a formal notice and detailed information about their rights and options in the mail. The hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who will receive that notice or who currently receive an Individual Indian Money account statement do not have to do anything to receive their pro-rated share of the settlement payment. Anyone who believes they should be part of the settlement, but does not receive a notice in the mail or doesn't get IIM statements, needs to fill out a claim form as soon as possible. The forms are available by calling 1-800-961-6109 or at the website www.IndianTrust.com.
Information on the settlement will also be disseminated through a media campaign aimed at Native Americans. Individuals wishing to keep their right to sue the federal government over the mismanagement claims addressed in the Cobell lawsuit must exclude themselves from the settlement by April 20. Class members can also submit written comments or objections about any settlement terms by that date.