Ask Elouise week of March 14, 2010

March 15, 2010

Dear Indian Country

This is the fifth letter in a series of open letters I'm sending to Indian Country to answer questions that you have asked me about settlement of the Cobell class action lawsuit. Prior Ask Elouise letters can be found on the settlement website: We also have a "frequently asked questions" section to answer the most common questions we've received: I can't answer every question, but I will try to answer as many as I can every week.

When are your next meetings in Indian Country? Our litigation team will be traveling through parts of Arizona and New Mexico this week. If you are able to attend, our team would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, March 17
8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Apache Gold Casino Resort - The Geronimo Room
5 miles East of Globe on Highway 70
San Carlos Reservation, Arizona
Wednesday, March 17
4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Fort Apache Reservation
Hon-Dah Resort & Conference Center - The Mt. Baldy Room
770 Highway 260 Pinetop, Arizona
Thursday, March 18
3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Churchrock Allottee Association, Churchrock Chapter House
Navajo, New Mexico
The Churchrock Chapter House is at the junction of State Route 566
and the old U.S. Route 66, no more than ten miles east of Gallup,
New Mexico
Friday, March 19
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Magee Park Convention Center
Navajo, New Mexico
The Convention Center is between Farmington & Bloomfield

Future trips are planned for the week beginning March 22 in the Pacific Northwest. Check the settlement website for the most recent meeting schedule.

I've heard that two classes are resolved by the settlement agreement, what does that mean? A class action lawsuit is a group of people with similar claims that collectively bring an action in court. In this case, two classes of people will have their claims resolved by the settlement agreement. The first is an historical accounting class that includes individuals living on September 30, 2009 who had an IIM account open at any time between October 25, 1994 and September 30, 2009 and had money credited to it. Each individual in the historical accounting class will receive $1,000 instead of, and in the alternative to, the required historical accounting, which the U.S. Court of Appeals described in June 2009 as only an accounting of low hanging fruit.

The second class in the settlement is the trust administration class. This class includes individual Indians who own trust land as of September 30, 2009 or who have or had an IIM account at any point in time between 1985 and September 30, 2009. This second class will receive an additional payment of at least $500.

I heard that my settlement check will not be taxable, is this true? That is correct. We negotiated with the government to include a provision in the legislation and settlement agreement that provides that all settlement proceeds are not considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service. If you have a tax preparer or other tax professional you should make sure to inform them of this important settlement benefit. You may want to refer them specifically to the legislation when it is passed and page 42 of the settlement agreement, if they have any questions. A copy of the settlement agreement can be downloaded here:

How much will I receive as a member of the trust administration class? It depends on how much income you've collected into your IIM account. As noted above, each member of the class will receive a baseline payment of $500. Individuals with an IIM account open between 1985 and September 30, 2009 may receive more than $500. This trust administration class payment is separate from, and in addition to, the $1,000 payment to individuals in the historical accounting class and that you can be a member of both classes if you meet the criteria (see above).

The calculation uses an average of the 10 highest years of revenue (deposits) in your IIM account - this is called your Assigned Value. That would determine your share of the trust administration fund, which is tentatively estimated to be between $850 million and $900 million. The following calculations are estimates based on information provided by the government - your final trust administration payment can be more or less.

  • If your Assigned Value is between .01¢ and $5,000, you will receive between $500 and $1,000.
  • If your Assigned Value is between $5,000 and $15,000, you will receive between $1,000 and $2,500.
  • If your Assigned Value is between $15,000 and $30,000, you will receive between $2,500 and $5,000.
  • If your Assigned Value is between $30,000 and $75,000, you will receive between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • If your Assigned Value is between $75,000 and $750,000, you will receive between $10,000 and $100,000.

Individuals with an Assigned Value greater than $750,000 will receive more than $100,000.

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: 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.

Ask Elouise
Cobell Settlement
PO Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877

Thank you and keep your questions coming!

Best wishes

Elouise Cobell
Browning, Montana