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Senate Proceeding on Aug 5th, 2010 :: 3:05:00 to 3:13:00
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Byron Dorgan

3:04:56 to 3:05:16( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: objection. mr. bond: i thank the chair and my colleague and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: madam president, as we conclude our work prior to the august break, we are working very hard to try to aress the issues of the cobell settlement and the pigford settlement, the result of lawsuits that have

Byron Dorgan

3:05:00 to 3:13:00( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Byron Dorgan

Byron Dorgan

3:05:17 to 3:05:39( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: been filed and negotiations that then ensued to reach agreement to settle these two and i want to -- a photograph, a picture of a woman and i wonder how anyone serving in this chamber or how anyone in

Byron Dorgan

3:05:40 to 3:06:00( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: this country would feel had they been mary fish. she was an oklahoma indian. she lived in a small, humble home. never had ve much. but she had a piece of property, 40 acres, and she had six oil wells on her land. six oil wells on her land. this issue of her land dates

Byron Dorgan

3:06:01 to 3:06:22( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: back to 1887, when the federal government divided up tribal lands and gave individual indians separate parcels of land and then tossed the indians -- then said to the indians, do you know what? we're going to give you several parcels of land that will be yours and we're going to manage them for you and we're going to work your trust and provide income from your land to you.

Byron Dorgan

3:06:23 to 3:06:44( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: and so poor mary fish, an oklahoma indian, had six oil wells on her land and lived a humble life and died a few years ago waiting, waiting for justice justice, justice that she never received. the federal government never explained to mary how much oil was being pumped from the wells

Byron Dorgan

3:06:45 to 3:07:06( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: on her land. even with all the oil wells on her land, mary made only a few dollars a year from six wells. at one point this she got a check from the federal government -- at one point, she got a check from the federal government for six cents. another time she got a check from the goverent tore six -- $3, rather, and one time she got

Byron Dorgan

3:07:07 to 3:07:29( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: a very large check for $3,000. and although oil is still being produced, one of the statements that mary received towards the end was she had a negative $5 in her account. she died waiting for this legislation. she died waiti now, here's the circumstanc

Byron Dorgan

3:07:30 to 3:07:51( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: that brought chair -- to the floor of the senate this afternoon. there was a settlement agreement reached by the secretary of the interior and the plaintiffs in the cobell lawsuit. because a couple of colleagues are going to talk about pigford. but we're talking about settling both of these issues.

Byron Dorgan

3:07:52 to 3:08:12( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: that settlement established deadlines for the congress to act. well, the current deadline is august 6 but we have missed six deadlines established b federal court. if we don't act, parties will return back to litigation and that litigation has gone for i believe 15 years in the

Byron Dorgan

3:08:13 to 3:08:34( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: federal courts. now, as i indicated, this has resulted from a century of mismanagement of accounts. i the way that records were kept on one indian reservation of the accounts for the individual indians. rat-infest the warehouses with boxes laying all over.

Byron Dorgan

3:08:35 to 3:08:58( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: they wouldn't be able to find a piece of paper in this to save their soul and this is the record keeping for individual indian trust accounts. and the result is so many indians have been cheated. yes, there's been circumstances in the last 130 or 140 years in which indians were systematically cheated and

Byron Dorgan

3:08:59 to 3:09:20( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: looted, grand theft occurred. a substantial amount of money was made off these lands. someone else got it. the indians didn't. and it is certainly the case that it is long past the time now for us to agree to settle these grievances. in 1915, a government report identified -- quote -- "fraud,

Byron Dorgan

3:09:21 to 3:09:43( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: corruption, and incompetence in the management of these indian trust accounts. that's 1915. 1992, a house report said the indian trust accounts amounts to a bank that doesn't know how much money it has. and finally, in 1994, congress passed a law requiring that the government account for the money it was managing. and then two years later, after

Byron Dorgan

3:09:44 to 3:10:05( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: the 1994 law, and there was still nothing being done and no progress, elouise cobell filed a case asking the government to follow the law. elouise cobell is a member of the blackfeet nation of montana. she's quite a remarkable woman. like many american indians, she grew up hearing stories of government checks and how the

Byron Dorgan

3:10:06 to 3:10:28( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: checks never made any sense. the checks arrived once in awhile and were for amounts no one understood or could explain. so in 1996, she filed a lawsuit and her lawsuit said, give me an accounting of the money that you have collected from my lands and do the same for every other american indian. that was 1996.

Byron Dorgan

3:10:29 to 3:10:51( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: now it's 2000, the year 2000. and in this case and the pigford case, which has some relationship, in this case, we are now in the year 2000 -- 2010 where the agreement has been reached by the u.s. department of the interior to settle these accounts. the court ruled against the federal government in federal

Byron Dorgan

3:10:52 to 3:11:14( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: court ten years ago. they said the federal government has been wrong, they've mismanaged these accounts. yes, there's been corruption, incompetence, mismanagement. and so ten years ago, the federal court ruled against the federal government saying the federal government had lost and damaged and destroyed trust records, the federal government admitted that it could not

Byron Dorgan

3:11:15 to 3:11:35( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: account for these trust moneys. and after all of this, the government had the nerve to spend taxpayers' money to appeal the court's decision. and so it goes on and on and on. millions have been spent in endless litigation with no settlement in sight until we had the opportunity for settlement

Byron Dorgan

3:11:36 to 3:11:56( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: talks with the interior department and the indians that have resulted in this decision. i want to just mention a couple of other brief points. i know a couple of colleagues wish to make some comments today today. but the judge, when learning of the settlement between the federal government and the

Byron Dorgan

3:11:57 to 3:12:17( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: cobell plaintiffs, has said he wants the congress to provide agreement on this case. and to provide the funding for it. and that's what this is about. it's providing the funding to settle the cobell case. and others will settling the pigford case. i just will very briefly again

Byron Dorgan

3:12:18 to 3:12:38( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: say a lot of american indians moment. this is susie whitecalf. she's a blackfeet indian from montana. that picture was taken in 2001, the same year the courts found the federal government had broken its responsibility to indians. six years away -- or six yrs later, she passed away in 2007. she will not get justice.

Byron Dorgan

3:12:39 to 3:12:59( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: but perhaps we can provide just tens and tens of thousands of other indians by doing the right thing. madam president, i have other things to say but i want to -- i know some of my colleagues wish to say a few words, and if i might, the senator from arkansas has to be away from the chamber very briefly and she wanted to say a few words and then i know

Byron Dorgan

3:13:00 to 3:13:04( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: that senator kyl and some others

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