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Date: July 11, 2002
The Eighth Report of the Court Monitor was released this afternoon. Please go to http://www.indiantrust.com/ to view the entire report. His most relevant conclusions are as follows:
"As this Court and others have noted, a trustee cannot avoid his duty to the beneficiaries by stating he cannot properly manage his trust obligations. The beneficiaries are entitled to an accounting of their land, resources, and assets. In the matter at hand, they are entitled to an historical accounting of the monies that they were given or owed. If that is impossible as it apparently is, then there must be another solution to satisfy the fiduciary trust obligations of the Unites States to the IIM account holder beneficiaries."
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"The Defendants in their Report confirm the Special Trustee's worst fears. The Report on the proposed historical accounting illuminates just how relative little correct and locatable information is available that could serve as a foundation for an accurate and complete accounting that addresses not only the funds but the land and resources that have formed part of the IIM account holders' trust corpus for over a century.
Defendants' estimate of billions of dollars to complete what they cannot ensure for the Congress or this Court will be an accurate and complete accounting is stark testimony to the improbability of Defendants ever completing the historical accounting in the manner they have chosen. Nor have they apparently considered any of the other alternatives that may exist to carry out a proper historical accounting and limit the costs.
It is Defendants' responsibility - a trust fiduciary obligation to American Indians of the highest order - to offer some method to bring about an accounting that this Court and Plaintiffs, IIM account holder beneficiaries, could accept.
This Court has provided for an examination of the Defendants' historical accounting progress by bifurcating the Cobell litigation into two phases. One of those phases - Phase II - was to be a trial on the adequacy of the historical accounting. That trial would include not only an examination of the Defendants' efforts to conduct that accounting, it also would address Plaintiffs' challenges to that accounting and their own solutions to the Defendants' quandary.
However, this Court has not addressed at trial whether Defendants have found any method, least of all a cost effective one, for conducting an accurate and complete historical accounting. And Congress, as one of three branches of the United States who is the ultimate trustee for the Indian Trust, also has the responsibility for ensuring that the IIM account holder beneficiaries (as well as all Tribal beneficiaries) receive the accounting and the monies designated by that accounting that they are due. Congress, acknowledging this responsibility, has indicated it will wait for this Court to pursue resolution of the historical accounting morass. Nor should Congress consider limiting that accounting by accepting an argument that Defendants should not be required to do more than account for existing funds listed in unprotected, vulnerable and incomplete electronic databases and hard copy records going back only to 1985 unless this Court holds that it would be legally and practically tenable to so conduct the historical accounting.
Therefore, it is respectfully recommended that this Court set an immediate trial date for the Phase II historical accounting trial . . . . "
For more information on the Plaintiffs' lawsuit against the Department of Interior, please visit the website: http://www.indiantrust.com/
For more information about the Historical Accounting report please contact: Mia Merrick at (602) 878 2928
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