Government disputes $58 billion claim in Indian trust suit...
Jun 9 2008 3:17PM
WASHINGTON (AP) Government lawyers argued today that a group of American Indians is not entitled to a 58 billion dollar claim against the United States or anything close to that amount.
The Indians' 1996 suit claims they were swindled out of billions of dollars in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties, overseen by the Interior Department since 1887. They say the government has profited from money that should have gone promptly into individual Indian accounts.
The class-action lawsuit covers about 500,000 Indians and their heirs.
Opening arguments began today before U.S. District Judge James Robertson in Washington, D.C., to determine how much the government should pay the Indians.
Earlier this year, Robertson ruled that efforts by the Interior Department to account for the trust money were inadequate.