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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Judge: U.S. can’t account for money owed Indian landowners

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Interior Department is unable to complete an accounting of billions of dollars owed to Indian landholders across the country.

“It is now clear that completion of the required accounting is an impossible task,” Judge James Robertson said in a 165-page decision in a federal lawsuit that alleges Interior officials mismanaged Indian trust funds.

Still, Robertson said the dispute is not hopeless.

“It does mean that the time has come to bring this suit to a close,” he said of the 11-year-old lawsuit.

Jim Cason, associate deputy Interior secretary, has said previously that systemic problems do not persist throughout the department and that staff has worked diligently to do an accounting of the trust lands.

- Dianna Marrero, FederalTimes.com

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