Ask Elouise week of November 22, 2010
November 22, 2010
Dear Indian Country
This is the fifteenth letter in a series of open letters that I’m sending to Indian Country. The purpose of this letter is to update you about the settlement.
Since my last Ask Elouise letter (September 30, 2010), I and our representatives have been frequently meeting with both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress and their staffs. We have been advocating on behalf of our settlement legislation and its importance to over 500,000 individual Indians. The Senate has been a particularly difficult hurdle, having stripped us off of numerous pieces of legislation on multiple occasions for unrelated political reasons.
However, after almost 12 months of working with the Senate, it is with great pleasure that I can share good news with you – on Friday, November 19, the Senate unanimously passed legislation authorizing our settlement. The settlement was revised by the Senate to increase the distribution fund by $100 million and ensure that the neediest members of the class are treated fairly. One hundred Senators voiced their support and voted to pass legislation that will approve this landmark settlement. It is not possible to overstate this unprecedented vote of approval in the Senate. In an era of political gridlock and acrimony, and less than a month following one of the most contentious and difficult elections in recent memory, our settlement enjoys the unanimous support of the Senate. I’d like to extend my personal appreciation to each member of the United States Senate and their staffs, but especially to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Indian Affairs Chairman Bryon Dorgan of North Dakota, Senate Indian Affairs Vice Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
But, our work is not done.
Our settlement legislation must be passed by the House to be enacted. This is no sure thing for reasons that I mentioned above. We must be vigorous and redouble our efforts in the closing days of this Congress. If legislation is not passed by the close of this Congress, the Senate approval will be nullified and the settlement agreement will terminate. There is no hope of passage in the next Congress that begins in January. We need everyone to call or write his or her representatives before Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess on November 29 and urge them to pass the Cobell legislation before the end of this Congress. You may find contact information for your representative by clicking here:
Be sure to state in your email:
Please support and vote yes for the Cobell settlement legislation contained in HR 4783 (as passed by the Senate), the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.
Thank you, in advance. Every communication with your representative is important and let Congress know Indian Country will be heard!
Prior Ask Elouise letters can be found on the settlement website: http://cobellsettlement.com/class/ask_elouise.php. We also have a "frequently asked questions" section which includes the most common questions we've received as well as questions and answers from prior Ask Elouise letters: http://cobellsettlement.com/press/faq.php. With so many members of the class, I can't answer every question that you send.
The most common question I receive every week relates to whether a particular person is included in this settlement. Unfortunately, I do not have that information. The settlement agreement provides general guidelines (see also http://cobellsettlement.com/press/faq.php), but I also understand that many of you have unique or unusual circumstances, which make it unclear to me whether you are included in the settlement class. For those of you who still have questions, I recommend that you register to receive all Court-ordered communications to ensure you do not miss important information. There is no need to register if you are receiving a quarterly IIM statement. The Court ultimately will determine who is included in this settlement. Registration information can be found at the end of this and every Ask Elouise letter.
If you are not currently receiving an IIM statement from the government, please remember to register for correspondence over the Internet or by calling the number below.
If you have a question, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise you can send me a letter to the address below. To expedite the processing of your letters our contractor has set up a post office box in Ohio, but I assure you this letter is coming from me and I will see your letters.
PO Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877
Thank you and keep your questions coming!