Court throws out money judgment to Indians, orders accounting

CHRIS CASTEEL, Washington Bureau Published: July 24, 2009
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p/> But the appeals court said today, "It is within the power of the district court to order an accounting without requiring Interior to perform analyses the costs of which exceed the benefits payable to individual American Indians. It would indeed be 'nuts' to spend billions to recover millions ... A court sitting in equity may avoid reaching that absurdity."

The accounts were established in 1887 to hold the proceeds from leases on land owned by individual Indians for such activities as oil and gas drilling, grazing and timber cutting. The Indians sued the government in 1996 claiming the trust system was being mismanaged.

Two district judges and the appeals court have ruled that the government is in breach of its trust duties to the Indians.