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          In her “Ask Elouise” letter published yesterday on Indianz.com, Ms. Cobell makes new false statements about the Osage Nation and Osage headright holders.  

          Ms. Cobell forgets that both the Osage Nation and the Cobell plaintiffs argued that all Osage headright holders should be included in the class and receive their fair share of the funds owed to all IIM owners as a class.  The Court ruled, however, that only Osage headright holders with formal IIM accounts can participate in the settlement, because the case is limited to formal IIM accounts and does not include funds distributed to Osage headright holders by check from the Osage tribal trust account.  Thus, on the point of Osage participation in the funds to be distributed as a result of the Cobell case, the position advanced by the Osage Nation in the litigation was no different from that of the Cobell plaintiffs.

 

          The Osage Nation parted company with the Cobell plaintiffs only with respect to their attempt to include exclusively Osage monies in the case and have those distributed to all plaintiffs--to treat monies known to belong only to Osages as though they belonged to the entire Cobell class.  This strategy would have had the effect of inflating the recovery of non-headright holders, as well as the Cobell lawyers, at the ultimate expense of Osage headright holders.  Those monies are the subject of separate litigation that will benefit solely headright owners, and the Osage Nation stepped in to oppose the inclusion of those monies in the Cobell case to ensure that they would be preserved exclusively for Osage headright holders.

 

          Again, we encourage Osage headright holders and other interested persons to disregard Ms. Cobell's erroneous statements, and keep in mind that the column is written by the plaintiffs and lawyers who attempted to include Osage funds in their own lawsuit as a way of inflating their own recovery.  This was not looking out for the Osages--it was attempting to exploit them.

 

 

         Jim R. Gray, Principal Chief
         Archie Mason, Speaker
         John Mashunkashey, Chairman
         Robert Martin, Councilman
         Kathryn Red Corn, Councilwoman

         Osage Trust Team
         April 8, 2010