Salazar and the American-Indian Community

March 12 2009, 9:46 AM

Although Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he wants to end a 12-year-old Indian trust case against the U.S. government, the case's lead plaintiff, Elouise Cobell, says Salazar's lack of action to settle the case represents "an insult to Indian people." That's according to The Associated Press, which notes the suit claims that since 1887, the Interior Department has cheated Indians out of $47 billion in oil, gas, grazing, timber, and other royalties. A district court last year saw the situation differently, ruling that plaintiffs should receive a fraction--$455 million--triggering appeals from both sides. While that controversy rages, another lingers in southwest Colorado. There, state Representative Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, wants Salazar and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to intervene in the Four Corners region to get rid of the mustard-colored cloud that emanates from a power plant on Navajo land in New Mexico, according to another AP story. Despite such headaches, Salazar gets praise from The New York Times editorial board, which points to his progress on protecting the environment on several fronts.