Lawsuit Claims U.S. Government Has Mismanaged Cherokee Nation Trust Fund
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - The Cherokee Nation is suing the United States, claiming the federal government mismanaged the tribe's trust fund for decades.
The suit claims the government's lack of accountability has hurt the tribe’s progress and development.
The lawsuit was filed Monday and it just so happens that is the 231st anniversary of the Cherokee Nation's first official treaty with the U.S., the Treaty of New Hopewell.
In a video produced by the Cherokee Nation, leaders of the tribe spell out the issues listed in the lawsuit against the U.S. government.
In the video, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said, "The United States has been and continues to be a black box of information as to the Cherokee Nation's resources."
The lawsuit claims the U.S. sold and utilized tribal resources but never compensated the tribe; selling off things like land, coal and timber.
The tribe said it's a violation of just one of many agreements they've made with the government.
"The Treaty of Hopewell is just the first of many treaties the United States broke," you hear in the video.
Cherokee Nation Communication Director Amanda Clinton said, "We are asking the United States to provide a correct accounting of our trust resources that may have been mismanaged over the last 200 to 300 years."
Clinton said the tribe is hopeful the issue will be resolved.
"The U.S. is a government of laws and principles, and I think we are at our best, as Americans and as Native Americans, when our word is kept. So, we think this is an opportunity for the U.S. to keep its word," she said.
The tribe boasts more than 300,000 citizens nationwide.
Clinton said the Cherokee Nation hasn't decided how it would distribute any money it might receive from the government, but, she said it would most likely go to many of the nation’s social programs.
"The money we make from any sort of settlement, or that we generate today, goes back into social services like health care, housing, education, many, many types of social services," she said.
As to what prompted the lawsuit, Clinton said this issue has been on the tribe's radar for quite some time and that the filing has been in the works for months.