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In 1996 - I n 1996 five Native Americans filed a lawsuit...

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In 1996, five Native Americans filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior and the United States Department of the Treasury. This case was originally known as Cobell v Babbitt, then was renamedCobell v Norton and is now known as Cobell v Kempthorne since this lawsuit has lasted through the terms of three Secretaries of the Interior. Currently this lawsuit is a class action suit on behalf of approximately 500,000 Native Americans and their heirs. The purpose of the lawsuit is to force the government to account for money held in trust for the Native Americans and to bring about a permanent reform of the trust system. The basic facts of this lawsuit go back to 1887. Under the "General Allotment Act of 1887" (also known as the "Dawes Act"), tribal lands were divided into parcels of between 80 and 160 acres of land. Thousands of individual Native Americans were allocated beneficial ownership of these parcels of land.
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