Where’s My Check? Part III: Information about the Indian Trust Settlement

It’s in the mail…soon.

In 1996, Elouise Cobell sued the federal government on behalf of 500,000 Indians for mismanagement of trust or restricted land in the United States.  This settlement amount totals $3.4 billion dollars and is broken in two parts: $1.5 billion to Historical Class and Trust Administration Class (Trust Class) members and $1.9 billion to buy back small inherited land interest.  In Alaska, restricted land pertains to the ownership or inheritance of Native allotments or Restricted Native Townsites, the settlement does not apply to Native corporation land.  Alaska is only eligible for the Historical and Trust Class payment, Alaska is not eligible for the “buyback” of your land ownership interest.  Again, the government will not be buying back any land from us in Alaska.

The payments are mailed in two parts: the first payment of $1,000 dollars was sent to eligible landowners the week of December 17, 2012.  The first payments issued to land owners were to those in the Historic Class. The second group, the Trust Class, will receive checks within six months (most receive at least $500 or more).  Because the overall Indian Trust Settlement is a bit complicated, I will break down the details so that everyday people like us can understand how we will be paid

So basically, there are two classes of payments that Alaska is eligible for:

  1. Historical Class payments were mailed to Native allotment owners who had at least one cash transaction in their account- cash that may have been paid for a land sale, rent, a right of way, or permit.
  2. Trust Class payments applies to the rest of us, simply if you own, or inherited any Native allotment or Restricted Native Townsite, the owners will receive this payment at a later date, estimated to be within 6 months of the first payment.

The settlement applies to accounts or ownership held between the years 1985 to September 30, 2009.

Most of you have already filed a “claim form” with Indian Trust Settlement and there is no need to file again.  Even if you did not file a claim form, you are still eligible for a settlement check if you are receiving quarterly statements for your Individual Indian Money (IIM) account.  If you think you have land information that the government does not know about, then you can file a claim form with the additional information – all claim forms are due by March 1, 2013.

Specific questions about your account, such as how much payments will be, should be directed to your Indian Trust Settlement attorney’s call center: 1-800-961-6109.  The call center may ask for your IIM number, but if you do not have the IIM number, then call the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians office in Anchorage at 907-271-1385.  You may also call our Realty office at Tanana Chiefs Conference and ask for Linda Evans: 1-800-478-6822 (Alaska) extension 3242, or outside Alaska, 1-800-770-8251, or e-mail: linda.evans@tananachiefs.org

If you have access to the internet, you can check for Indian Trust Settlement news at their website, www.indiantrust.com, or search for related news sites by typing the words “Indian Trust Settlement” into the Google search engine.

Detailed information on the settlement is listed on this site where you can file online, or print forms and mail to: Indian Trust Settlement, PO Box 9577, Dublin, Ohio, 43017-4877.  If you have any other questions about your land, please call Paul Mayo, Director, Realty Department, Natural and Cultural Resource, at 1-800-478-6822 extension 3261.

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