Editor's Comments - August 22, 2014: Second round of Cobell payments coming soon?

Once again, the second round of Cobell Payments has stalled. The recent "Plaintiff's Status Report Regarding Process on Efforts to Commence Trust Administration Class Payments" filed July 14, 2014, stated that the Department of Interior reported that it would be completed by August 30, 2014 with completing the updating of approximately 200 class members on 17 Indian trust tracts.

This is really confusing. The Garden City Group has reported that Interior has not completed the determination of addresses for those individuals coded "Whereabouts Unknown." Interior says about 200 individuals need to be updated and GCG reports there are about 30,000 "Whereabouts Unknown." Who is right and who is wrong? The Office of the Special Trustee touts their past ability to locate many individuals who were previously coded as "Whereabouts Unknow" but somehow still acknowledges that there are about 30,000 still unresolved. Each local BIA Agency has a OST Fiduciary Trust Officer whose primary duty is to locate individuals and update their addresses.

The next problem, as is common in Indian Country, is that Indian folks move a lot without changing they address and thus become a "Whereabouts Unknown." It's a constant changing list.

Simple solution? Merely issue the checks for all tracts where the ownership has been certified as correct and if any come back stamped by the Post Office as "Whereabouts Unknown" place the funds into the Individual Indian Monies account and hold until the correct address is obtained. It's not that difficult a task. OST loves to disable IIM accounts when an individual disposes of his or her trust land interest because it costs money to maintain an account and their reports look better.

Is holding up about 470,000 checks for 30,000 individuals who can't be located worth withholding long overdue payments? Good luck on receiving your payment anytime soon.

Jay Daniels - Roundhouse Talk

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Editor’s Comments – August 22, 2014: Second round of Cobell payments coming soon?

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