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Payments to tribal members coming soon

But more than 1,000 listed as “whereabouts unknown”

A settlement administration firm in Montana is getting ready to distribute funds to individual tribal members under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Interior. But more than 1,600 members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are on a list of those whose whereabouts are unknown.

Payments for the Trust Administration Class in the Indian Trust Settlement are expected to be mailed in the early fall, the settlement administrator, The Garden City Group, Inc., announced Wednesday.

The settlement is for a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Department of Interior known as Cobell v. Salazar that claimed the federal government mishandled trust management responsibilities. The $3.4 billion trust funds include money collected from farming and grazing leases, timber sales and mining and oil and gas production from land owned by American Indians or Alaska Natives.

Those eligible for the Trust Administration Class are expected to receive at least $500.

Jennifer Keough, of administration firm, said Monday that tribal members should “absolutely” check their contact information listed on a website list of those whose address is apparently unknown, according to records provide to the firm by DOI.

The website includes some 30,000 names nationwide, including 1,603 names of members of the Colville Tribes.

Many of those listed are deceased, or the estates of those who are deceased but still eligible for payment.

But some of the names definitely belong to living tribal members. One such name belongs to a child who currently lives in west Coulee Dam. Another may belong to a former tribal council member.

“In the data file the government provided us, they list those individuals as ‘whereabouts unknown,’” Keough said.

The distribution of trust administration class payments should happen in early fall, after the government completes a review of records and then finalizes calculation of the awards.


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