August 17, 2011
After 11 years of litigation, the Osage Minerals Council voted today to preliminarily approve a settlement of the Osage Tribe’s pending case against the United States for breach of trust with respect to the United States’ alleged mismanagement of the Osage Mineral Estate and the Osage Tribe’s accounts. The total amount of the proposed settlement is $380 million.
As a part of the proposed settlement, $345.8 million will be paid into the Osage Tribal trust account and paid out to all headright holders in accordance with the 1906 Osage Act, with each headright holder receiving a payment based upon $155,136 per full headright. If approved, the payments to headright holders will be made on or before December 5, 2011. The law firms representing the Osage Tribe will be paid a 9% contingency fee.
In addition to the $380 million, the United States has agreed in principle to processes and actions to improve the management of the Osage Mineral Estate and the Osage tribal trust account.
The settlement is the result of months of negotiations with the United States following U.S. Court of Federal Claims rulings that said the Osage Tribe was owed approximately $330 million for claims arising from 1972 to 2000. This ruling was subject to appeals to the Federal Circuit and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tribe and the United States were moving toward a trial in early 2012 for the remaining claims in the case, then further appeals.
The settlement negotiations were handled by the Osage Trust Team, three individuals elected by the Osage Minerals Council; Dudley Whitehorn, Galen Crum, Cynthia Boone, the Speaker of the Osage Nation Congress, Jerri Jean Branstetter, and the Principal Chief, John D. RedEagle, to manage and direct the litigation. Minerals Councilman, Dudley Whitehorn, serves as Chair of the Trust Team.
“While not perfect, the proposed settlement represents and end to over a decade of hard fought litigation and a new beginning for improved management of the Osage Mineral Estate and Osage trust funds,” said Chairman Whitehorn. “Upon execution of the settlement, our Osage headright holders, including our elders who have waited too long for this settlement, will receive their settlement payment before Christmas."
The settlement is still subject to final documentation and to a process whereby the views of Osage headright holders will be sought and considered by the Osage Trust Team. It will then be considered for formal approval and authorization of the Trust Team to finalize the settlement agreement.
If you have any questions about this press release, please contact Wilson Pipestem at 703-980-2262.
An informative meeting will be held
at the Wah-zha-zhi Cultural Center
in Pawhuska, OK
August 24, 2011 @ 6:30PM
for Osage Headright Holders ONLY!