H. R. 2306
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 14, 2007
Mr. Peterson of Minnesota introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources
To provide for the use and distribution of the funds awarded to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, et al., by the United States Court of Federal Claims in Docket Numbers 18 and 188, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Judgment Fund
Distribution Act of 2007.
Findings and purpose
Congress finds the following:
On January 22, 1948, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, representing all Chippewa bands in Minnesota except the Red Lake Band, filed a claim before the Indian Claims Commission in Docket No. 19 for an accounting of all funds received and expended pursuant to the Act of January 14, 1889, 25 Stat. 642, and amendatory acts (hereinafter referred to as the Nelson Act).
On August 2, 1951, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, representing all Chippewa bands in Minnesota except the Red Lake Band, filed a number of claims before the Indian Claims Commission in Docket No. 188 for an accounting of the Government's obligation to each of the member bands of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe under various statutes and treaties that are not covered by the Nelson Act of January 14, 1889.
On May 17, 1999, a Joint Motion for Findings in Aid of Settlement of the claims in Docket No. 19 and 188 was filed before the Court.
The terms of the settlement were approved by the Court and the final judgment was entered on May 26, 1999.
On June 22, 1999, $20,000,000 was transferred to the Department of the Interior and deposited into a trust fund account established for the beneficiaries of the funds awarded in Docket No. 19 and 188.
The funds awarded in Docket No. 19 and 188 represent additional compensation that would have been distributed per capita under the Nelson Act if the funds had been deposited into the permanent account established in the U.S. Treasury for the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. Hence, the judgment funds shall be divided pro rata among the Bands based upon the number of members enrolled with each Band.
Pursuant to the Indian Tribal Judgment Funds Use or Distribution Act (25 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.), the Secretary is required to submit to Congress for approval an Indian judgment fund use or distribution plan.
It is the purpose of this Act to provide for the fair and equitable division of the judgment funds among the Bands and to provide each Band the opportunity to develop a use and distribution plan for its share of the funds.
For the purpose of this Act:
The term available funds means the funds awarded to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and interest earned and received on those funds, less the funds used for payment of attorney fees and litigation expenses.
The term Bands means the Bois Forte Band, Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille Lacs Band, and White Earth Band.
The term judgment funds means the funds awarded on May 29, 1999, to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe by the Court of Federal Claims in Docket No. 19 and 188.
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
The term Minnesota Chippewa Tribe means the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minnesota composed of the Bois Forte Band, Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage Band, Leech Lake Band, Mille Lacs Band, and White Earth Band. It does not include Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota.
The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.
Loan reimbursements to certain bands
The Secretary is authorized to reimburse each Band the amount of funds plus interest earned to the date of reimbursement that the Band contributed for payment of litigation expenses and expert witness fees associated with the litigation of Docket No. 19 and 188 before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Reimbursement to a Band shall only be for litigation expenses and expert witness fees incurred prior to June 22, 1999.
The Band's claim for reimbursement of funds expended shall be—
presented to the Secretary within 90 days of the date of enactment of this Act,
itemized and supported by invoices and receipts,
certified by the Band as being unreimbursed to the Band from other funding sources, and
paid with interest calculated at the rate of 5.5 percent per annum, simple interest, from the date the funds were expended to the date the funds are reimbursed to the Band.
The Secretary shall review the claims and determine if the fees and expenses are properly documented and incurred in the litigation of the claims before the Court in Docket No. 19 and 188. All claims approved by the Secretary for reimbursement to the Band shall be paid from the judgment funds prior to the division of the funds under section 5.
Division of judgment funds
The Bands shall update their membership rolls to include all enrolled members living on the date of enactment of this Act. The membership rolls shall be subject to the review and approval of the Secretary.
After all funds have been reimbursed as provided under section 4, and the membership rolls have been updated, reviewed, and approved under subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall divide the available judgment funds among the Bands in proportion to the number of members enrolled with each Band.
The Secretary shall establish a separate account for each Band and deposit each Band's proportionate share of the available judgment funds into their respective account.
Development of tribal plans for the use or distribution of funds
The Secretary shall have no more than 180 days from the date that the funds are divided among the Bands under section 5 to prepare and submit to the Congress, in a manner otherwise consistent with the Indian Tribal Judgment Funds Use or Distribution Act (25 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.), separate plans for the use and distribution of each Band’s respective share of the available funds.
Once a distribution plan becomes effective in accordance with subsection (a), a Band may withdraw all or part of the monies in its account in accordance with the Band's distribution plan.
If a Band exercises the right to withdraw monies from its account, the Secretary shall not retain any liability for the expenditure or investment of the monies withdrawn.
Funds disbursed under this Act shall not be liable for the payment of previously contracted obligations of any recipient as provided in Public Law 98–64 (25 U.S.C. 117b(a)).
Indian Judgment Funds Distributed Act
All funds distributed under this Act are subject to the provisions in the Indian Judgment Funds Distributed Act (25 U.S.C. 1407).