Attorneys searching for Cobell claimants

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The search continues for Oklahomans who are eligible to claim benefits from the multi-billion dollar settlement in the class-action lawsuit, an attorney said last week.

Under the 1999 Cobell settlement, the U.S. Goverment agreed to pay $3.4 billion as a result of incorrectly accounting for income in trust accounts of Native American tribal members.

Around 700 members of the Osage Nation are owed approximately $9 million in Cobell benefits, attorney David Smith said. He added that the whereabouts of many of the lawsuit’s beneficiaries are not known.

“The difficulty is that (the U.S. Department of the) Interior’s records are horrible,” the Washington, D.C.-based attorney stated.

Nationwide, there are more than 30,000 potential beneficiaries of the trust-fund settlement who cannot be located, according to Smith. He added that claims can be made by the descendants of missing account-holders.

Approximately 30,000 potential beneficiaries of the settlement are still being sought, said Smith.

For more information, persons can contact the Smith’s law firm, Kilpatrick & Townsend, at 866-383-6554.