Native Americans Win .4 Billion Settlement for U.S. Government's Mismanagement of Millions of Acres of Land
Interview with Elliott Levitas, attorney with the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
After 15 years of litigation, a monumental class action lawsuit regarding trust accounts for half a million Native Americans was settled on June 20 by Judge Thomas Francis Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, was the lead plaintiff in an effort to end the abuse, mismanagement and outright fraud that resulted from the U.S. government’s control of 100 million acres of land and its natural resources that were held in trust for individual native Americans after passage of the Dawes Act in 1887. Initially, the federal government denied all these claims, asserting it had no legal responsibility and owed nothing to the native American litigants.