Native American News

Jan 16, 2013 8:49 PM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News

Thousands still wait for Cobell settlement checks

CROW AGENCY - The post office in Crow Agency has foot traffic day in and day out, as tribal members search their P.O. boxes in hopes to find an important piece of mail.

"It's always busy because everyone's always waiting to check if they've got their settlement or have received any kind of information," said Coty Cloud, an enrolled tribal member still waiting for her check.

Her story is similar to thousands of others who believed their money would arrive by December 24. Coty Cloud has helped friends and family members file for their piece of the settlement.

"My uncle was getting frustrated ... trying to figure out why he didn't get his check, and why his check got sent somewhere else. So he called and got one reissued and they sent it to the wrong address again."

Attorneys in the Cobell case say wrong addresses have been a common issue. Garden City Group, the company handing check distribution, received mailing addresses from the Department of Interior. For many, these were addresses from years ago.

"For those individuals who haven't received a check yet, I encourage them to call Garden City Group, that number is 1(800)961-6109 and we want to make sure everybody who is entitled to a check, gets it," said David Smith, attorney in the Cobell case.

Distribution of checks began mid December for members of the Historical Accounting class. Just over 350,000 tribal members qualified for the $1,000 checks. So far, 83 percent of those were sent out and cashed.

While filing online, Coty says she put down her current address, in hopes her check would be sent to the correct address the first time around.

"Seems like they're not even paying attention to the information we're giving them because they're still going back to the addresses we had years ago."

By this fall, another 500,000 checks will be sent out to tribal members who are part of the trust administration class. It's a check Coty, along with many others hope to see shortly after the distribution date.

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