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Our firm defended a tribal absentee ballot law (denying absentee ballots to non-resident members) against constitutional attack in Jacobson v. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, No. CV-05-101 (Supreme Court of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Nov. 29, 2006).

General Memorandum 12-019

General Memorandum 12-019
DOI Seeks Comments on Draft Cobell Land Consolidation Plan; First Meeting of National Commission on Trust Reform Scheduled

On February 3, 2012, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced in the attached FEDERAL REGISTER notices: the draft plan for implementation of the Cobell Land Consolidation Program is available for review and comment; and the first meeting of the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform (Commission) will be held March 1-2.

Cobell Land Consolidation Program Draft Plan. The draft plan sets forth the proposal for spending the $1.9 billion set-aside (less $60 million to be transferred for an Indian scholarship fund) from the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement that will be used for the voluntary buy-back and consolidation of fractionated land interests which will then be transferred to tribes. The draft plan was developed in consultation with tribes and individual Indians. The 36-page draft plan is available at http://www.doi.gov/cobell/upload/FINAL-DRAFT-Cobell-Land-Consolidation-P.... The deadline for submitting comments is March 19, 2012. Instructions for submitting comments are contained in the notice.

Commission Meeting. The first meeting of the 5-member National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform will be held on March 1-2, 2012, in Washington, DC, at the Department of the Interior. The meeting is open to the public but due to space limitations, those wanting to attend are asked to RSVP by February 24, 2012, at trustcommission@ios.doi.gov.

The DOI news release states that the Commission is to complete a "comprehensive evaluation of Interior's management and administration of the trust assets, as well as recommendations for improvement." Members of the Commission are: Fawn R. Sharp, Commission Chair and President of Quinault Indian Nation; Dr. Peterson Zah, former President of the Navajo Nation; Stacy Leeds (Cherokee Nation), Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law; Tex G. Hall, Chairman of Three Affiliated Tribes; and Bob Anderson (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe), Professor of Law and Director of the Native American Law Center–University of Washington.

Please let us know if we may be of further assistance regarding the items reported in this Memorandum.

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Inquiries may be directed to:
Geoff Strommer (gstrommer@hobbsstraus.com; 503-242-1745)
Marie Osceola-Branch (mosceola-branch@hobbsstraus.com)

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