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3.4.03

Indians Who Sought Billions Owed $60.94, Report Finds

Four Native Americans went to court in 1996 to demand that the government pay them and many others like them billions of dollars in royalties from a trust fund established in 1887 to manage mineral and timber development on lands apportioned to individual Indians.
Now a $20-million study ordered by the government has produced a different accounting of the shortfall in the government's payments, at least to the four named plaintiffs and their predecessors. Its finding: $60.94.


This is an interesting development. I'm a bit skeptical, given the inherent inefficiencies of bureaucracy, the nation's not-quite-stellar history of dealings with Native Americans, and the fact that the BIA's profile is fairly low (so it's subject to less pressure by people with real power to make sure it's doing things right). And it's not as if a number of inaccuracies over the years have averaged out to $60.94. The study found one single instance of mistaken accounting, amounting to $60.94. On the other hand, I don't have much beyond my suspicions to go on, since I haven't seen the report. Either way, the study is certainly a huge victory for the government. Unless there's some embarrassing expose of flawed methodology in the study, the plaintffs' case has become far more difficult,

It's also interesting that, based on Yahoo! News's archive, the LA Times was the only major news outlet to cover this story (there isn't even an AP wire about it).

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