Quapaw tribal members file class action suit
February 08, 2011
The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma has announced that nine members of the tribe have filed a class action, breach-of-trust lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. The breach-of-trust lawsuit, Grace M. Goodeagle v. United States (No. 11-00009) addresses the federal government’s alleged mismanagement of individual money accounts (IIM) accounts, and other money owed to tribal members under leases, contracts, and permits. The lawsuit also claims reparations for the government’s alleged mismanagement of the tribal members’ allotment lands, including massive environmental contamination resulting in one of the nation’s most notorious hazardous waste sites, Tar Creek.

An accounting of the federal government’s historical management of Quapaw trust assets was recently completed pursuant to a settlement with the government. This accounting identifies and details the government’s mismanagement of numerous individual tribal member trust assets, including the government’s failure to collect monies due and owing under leases, permits, and agreements for the Quapaw Tribe and for the restricted interest holders of 13 allotments and of the class they represent, the degradation of the natural resources on the land and the environment, and the waste and dissipation of other trust assets, all of which the complaint alleges were the result of government mismanagement and negligence.

Tribal member Grace Goodeagle, one of the named litigants, stated, “The Quapaw Tribe's relationship with the U.S. Government has been mostly unsatisfactory since the tribe signed treaties with the U.S. Government decades ago. This class action is being brought so the voices of those who have gone on before and the voices of our people today can be heard."

Litigants are represented by Nancie Marzulla and Roger Marzulla’s Washington, D.C.-based law firm which focuses on litigation designed to obtain just compensation and reparations for claimants in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Quapaw Tribal Chairman John Berrey stated, “We believe this is an opportunity for us to tell a story that is an unfortunate chapter in our rich history, and think the Marzullas are the perfect choice to represent our people.”

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