This Video is about: Navajo Nation Council met in a special session on June 6, 2014, to finish up its May 30, 2014, agenda. The Council didn’t finish its May 30, 2014, agenda because they lost a quorum. Before the Council started debate on its legislation, it honored former Council Delegate Ervin Keeswood Sr. for his initiation of legislation that started the lawsuit against the United States for mismanagement of tribal trust funds and resources and ended with a $554 million settlement. But according to Delegate Katherine Benally the initial amount that the Council sought when it sued the U.S. was $2 billion. Benally announced during the honoring of Keeswood that she had called a meeting with communities across the Navajo Reservation to begin talks on how to use the $554 million settlement and to get educated about the the tribe’s investments
As the Council got underway, Speaker Pro Temp LoRenzo Bates announced that there were key individuals in 2006 that initiated the lawsuit against the United States that was settled for $554 million recently with the approval of the Council on May 30, 2014, and signature of President Ben Shelly on June 4, 2013.
And so there will be recognition of one of those individuals, Bates said as he called Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley to make the presentation.
Delegate Lorenzo Curley recalls that former Council Delegate Ervin Keeswood Sr. sponsored legislation that created a “set aside” of tribal funds that would be used for lawsuits filed by the tribe against the United States for its failure to properly exercise federal trust responsibility over tribal trust funds and resources.
Curley said that the legislation was titled, “Historic Asset Mismanagement Trust Fund.” And we passed that and out of that came the recent settlement of $554 million for mismanagement of trust funds and resources by the U.S., Curley explained.
On behalf of the Council, Curley presents a plaque and Navajo bow guard to 20th Navajo Council Delegate Ervin Keeswood Sr. for initiating Historic Asset Mismanagement Trust Fund.
Keewood says he’s surprised by the gifts because they are all aware that their work as public servants is done without the expectations of receiving gifts individually but to see how much we can do for the people out here.
“That is the real gift to receive,” he emphasized. “That makes us happy.”
He then acknowledges other tribal elected officials who were part of the Historic Asset Mismanagement Trust Fund. He names former Speaker Edward T. Begay; former President and Chairman Peterson Zah, former Councils.
We all came to this great chamber and our own District of Columbia to work for the people, Keeswood says. And I realize what you all go through on a daily basis.
He adds that he knows that there a lot of people that criticize the Council, the administration, and tribal employees on a daily basis. But they are not with you daily and so they do not know how difficulty the job is. “I honor all of you in that regard,” Keeswood says.
He recalled that when this started years ago with former Navajo Nation Controller Bobby White, we put a lot of effort into it.
And now the next challenge is how to use the $554 million for the people and I don’t you as the sitting Council to do that.
Delegate Katherine Benally also acknowledged Keeswood’s initiation of a Trust Fund for financial support of tribal litigation against the federal government.
But Benally noted that the $554 million settlement is not the $2 billion that the tribe initially claimed against the U.S. for mismanagement of tribal trust funds and resources.
$1 billion would have been even better for the years and years of neglect, since the 1940s, she added.
Benally said she hopes that the $554 million settlement will be used for infrastructure for the communities and so she has called all 110 chapters to meet with her on the $554 million and on all tribal investments on June 18, 2014, at Dine’ College, Tsaile, Ariz.