Accounting System Probed in Native American Land Claim

The U.S. Federal Government has commissioned an external review of the accounting system used to track royalties from native American lands that are the subject of a $10 billion lawsuit.

According to press reports, Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton ordered an outside appraisal of the $40 million accounting system after it was criticized by a court-appointed investigator. The investigator concluded that the system "may not be salvageable" and suggested that officials may have misled the court when they claimed that the accounts system was nearly operational.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth is presiding over the class action suit brought on behalf of 300,000 Native Americans who claim the government squandered up to $10 billion from trust accounts set up in 1887 to manage royalties from grazing, logging, mining, and oil drilling on Indian lands.

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