NAVAJO COUNCIL DISCUSSION LEGISLATION 0131-14, APPROVING SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH U.S. FOR SETTLEMENT OF LAWSUIT AGAINST U.S. FOR ALLEGED MISMANAGEMENT OF TRUST FUNDS WHICH INVOLVES $554 MILLION AND OTHER BENEFITS AND CONCESSIONS.
DELEGATE LORENZO CURLEY, SPONSOR OF LEGISLATION 0131-14
Settlement reached with U.S. regarding trust responsibility. This case originated over decade ago, before I was on council. But I remember in 2006, I was sitting over where Delegate Damon sitting and attorneys came to talk to us about case. I didn’t know what they were talking about cuz just in litigation with U.S. over Peabody matter.
And so another case of that same scope came before me and I could not fathom. But we authorized litigation and funding.
Less than year ago, we came back to Council and asked for Task Force to help tribal attorneys to proceed with litigation against U.S.
And part of effort was negotitations. When convened the first thing we addressed and decided how to approach case as pending in federal court. Members of Task Force outspoken and determined for judgement.
We proceeded and we were successful to negotiate settlement and terms of settlement.
Here to describe benefits of settlement and terms of settlement.
We had work session yesterday where we talked about benefits and terms. Some of you were not there and if you feel you need to ask question and further clarifications on settlement in legislation then have attorneys answer in open session or closed session.
Here are attorneys: Sam Barform, butler, andy tome, on side other attorneys.
ATTORNEY STANLEY J. BUFFONE
Since 1999, worked on lititgation and looked forward to day to repsent Navajo nation
Largest ever recovery settlement in any breach of trust in any litigation or settlement with any tribe.
Describe agreement, attached to legislation, Sandler and he will describe benefits.
Wat NN gets is 545 milion and end to breach of trust litigation, finality and settlement.
Nation gives up broad release and before describe need to explain wat lawuit based on. US. deal with tribal assets and resources as trust assets as your trustee.
As coal, gas and oil extracted, those funds were paid to Dept of Interior so once Interior collected, what did it do with them? Invest for mximum terms? Did it disburse when needed by tribe? Disburse promptly?
Second part was management of contracts and leases: once lease made, did US properly administer so every dollar accounted.
Lititgation intense and protracted.
We feel conficent withsettlemt.
Nation agees when appove back to 1946 that any claims of this nature that no mor eclaims of fund mismanagement. Release bit broader, any mismanagement is any resources but nothing from date of agreement forward.
But there are carbals (sp) and nothing regarding water, uranium and there are number of other carbals to maintina righs for nation.
So release with exceptions.
Second thing given up, Congress passed legislation requiring DOI account for native trust funds and it has failed to do but reporting getting better. Nation agree that reporting fair and accurate and that balances accurate and acceptable.
Thid major provision: for very limited funds in trust with U.S. and remember things have changed over time and nation took over trust fund management so royalties go directly to tribe.
But balances are small and can be disputed but there has to be full discussions before
ATTORNEY ANDREW L. SANDLER
We expected to go to court to get just relief in court oflaw. We contineed to negotiate with government becuze of reasons if settle that it wud be in nation’s best interst.
We can look at you and say that we have achieved that.
If we tried, we wud have obtained more money but five to ten years. But you know that if beat U.S. in court theywill appeal and you will lose what you won earlier.
Points to chart that showed that tribe receiving $554 million, instead of $814 m in five years, $1.2 billion in 10 years, $1.8 billion in 15 years.
DELEGATE LORENZO CURLEY
Won $6 billlion from Peabody but in appeal, we lost that.
DELEGATE MEL BEGAY
Yes this is a large amount of money but this did not go to people. And there is still concern regarding Uranium and now federal government awarded contracts to uranium companies from the start of legacy of uranium.
Also questionable when sidetrack Navajo law but true picture is accomplishment of nation.
DELEGATE KATHERINE BENALLY
I appreciate what you had to say, Mr. Bafone, because everytime I and the Council met with you in Phoenix I kept your feet to the fire.
When came in 2003, Delegate Keeswood presented legislation for setaside and we questioned and questioned. Lot of good discussion happened here. Everyone was respectful. 20th council respectfully. No one ran train over anybody. 20th council most respectfully. But everyone pointing fingers and saying you mismanaged discretionary fund. That council, much mud slung at them, but they were very wise for making this decision.
I appreciate but I will have to vote against because no one threatening. I appreciate your work but it’s us, council, failed to abide by process that we made in best interest of people.
So extend appreciation and apology about why vote the way I am. It’s internal matter. I knew this wud happen. This is not something we shud hide from people. this is great news.
Yet we deprived that notice to our people.