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Pembina Class Action Settlement Website

Studio portrait of the Anishinaabe (Chippewa/Ojibwa) Delegation

taken in Washington, D.C., in 1880. Photograph provided by the National Museum of the American Indian.

Studio portrait of the Pembina Chippewa Delegation

taken in Washington, D.C., in 1874. Photograph provided by the National Museum of the American Indian.

# PEMBINA CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT WEBSITE

This website contains information regarding the class action Leslie Ann Wilkie Peltier, et al. v. Debra Haaland, et al.,[1] No. 20-3775, also known as “Pembina,” and is maintained by the Court-approved Settlement Administrator for this case, Class Experts Group, LLC.

Who’s Included? You are a member of the Settlement Class if:
1. You are an Original Individual Beneficiary of the 1964 and/or the 1980 Pembina Judgment Fund Award(s); or
2. You are the Legal Representative of a Settlement Class Member, authorized under applicable federal, state, or tribal law to represent a Settlement Class Member in matters relating to this Class Action; or
3. You are a First-Line Heir. “First-Line Heir” is, in the absence of applicable federal, state, or tribal law to the contrary, and in the absence of a Legal Representative authorized to act on behalf of an Original Individual Beneficiary, the living spouse of a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary, or, if there is no living spouse, the oldest living child of the Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary; or
4. You are a Second-Line Heir. “Second-Line Heir” is, in those instances in which there is no known Legal Representative of an Original Individual Beneficiary, and there is no First-Line Heir, a next closest living heir to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary, as determined in accordance with applicable federal, state, or tribal law and as designated by the Settlement Administrator.

The Settlement Benefits. The total amount of the Settlement Proceeds for this Class Action and the related case pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Chippewa Cree Tribe, et al. v. United States, No. 92-375 (the CFC Companion Case is Fifty-Nine Million Dollars ($59,000,000.00). After payment of Class Representative Service Awards, Class Counsel and Settlement Administrator Fees, Expenses, and Costs, as specified in the Class Action Settlement Agreement, the remaining funds are allocated as follows: 1. For Settlement Class Members: The total amount allocated is Forty Two Million Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Six Hundred Dollars ($42,650,600.00). The specific components of the allocation are as follows:
1. The total amount allocated for Settlement Class Members who shared in the 1964 Award is One Million Sixty-Three Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($1,063,400.00); 2. The total amount allocated for Settlement Class Members who shared in the 1980 Award as members of a Tribal Beneficiary is Thirty-Five Million One Hundred and Fifty-Five Thousand Two Hundred Dollars ($35,155,200.00); and
3. The total amount allocated for Settlement Class Members who shared in the 1980 Award as members of the Non-Member Lineal Descendants (“NMLDs”) group is Six Million Four Hundred and Thirty-Two Thousand Dollars ($6,432,000.00). 2. For the Tribal Plaintiffs in the CFC Companion Case: The total amount allocated is Eight Million Seven Hundred Eighty-Six Thousand Nine Hundred and Twenty Dollars ($8,786,920.00). The specific components of the allocation are as follow:
1. The total amount allocated to the Chippewa Cree Tribe is One Million Twenty-Seven Thousand Nine Hundred and Thirty-Nine ($1,027,939.00); 2. The total amount allocated to the Turtle Mountain Band is Six Million Eight Hundred and Fifty-Three Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($6,853,350.00);
3. The total amount allocated to the Little Shell Tribe is Five Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Six Dollars ($563,986.00); and 4. The total amount allocated to the White Earth Band is Three Hundred and Forty-One Thousand Six Hundred Forty-Six Dollars ($341,646.00).

In exchange for their Settlement Distribution payments, Settlement Class Members will release all claims that were or could have been asserted in this case against Defendants.

You will receive your share of the total amount of Settlement Proceeds allocated to the specific category to which you belong, as described above. From these Settlement Proceeds:

1. 1) each Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1964 Award; or ONE Legal Representative of a Settlement Class Member who shared in the distribution of the 1964 Award; or, ONE Eligible Heir to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1964 Award, will receive $50.00; 2. 2) each Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as members of one of the four Tribal Plaintiffs; or, ONE Legal Representative of a Settlement Class Member who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as a member of one of the four Tribal Plaintiffs; or, ONE Eligible Heir to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as a member of one of the four Tribal Plaintiffs, will receive$1,200.00; and
3. 3) each Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as a NMLD; or ONE Legal Representative of a Settlement Class Member who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as a NMLD; or, ONE Eligible Heir to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary who shared in the distribution of the 1980 Award as a NMLD, will receive \$1,500.00.

History of the Settlement

The Pembina Class Action Settlement Agreement is the result of a lawsuit to redress alleged breaches of trust by the United States Department of the Interior (the “Interior Department”), the United States Department of the Treasury, and the United States of America (the “Defendants”) with respect to the accounting and management of two Judgment Awards of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC). Decades ago, legal claims were brought in the ICC seeking additional compensation for certain lands that the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians ceded to the United States. These actions resulted in two ICC Judgment Awards. The first Judgment Award was in 1964 (the “1964 Award”), and the second was in 1980 (the “1980 Award”). The 1964 Award and the 1980 Award are known as the Pembina Judgment Fund. Defendants are the trustees for the Pembina Judgment Fund, meaning they were responsible for managing those trust funds on behalf of the Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries.

In 1971, Congress provided for distribution of the 1964 Award among four Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries determined by the ICC to be the modern day successors to the historic Pembina Band for purposes of the 1964 Award: 1) the White Earth Band; 2) the Turtle Mountain Band; 3) the Chippewa Cree Tribe; and 4) as a group, individuals called NMLDs, who were determined by the Interior Department to be lineal descendants of the Pembina Band eligible to share in  the distribution of the 1964 Award, but who were not members of any of the 1964 Award beneficiary tribes. The 1971 Distribution Act further provided that one hundred percent (100%) of each of the four Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries’ shares of the 1964 Award be distributed by the Interior Department to each individual member determined by the Interior Department to be eligible to share in the distribution of the 1964 Award. Defendants held the 1964 Award funds in trust and in common for Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries for at least twenty (20) years until they began to distribute them in 1984.

In 1982 Congress provided for use and distribution of the 1980 Award among five Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries determined by the ICC to be the modern day successors to the historic Pembina Band for purposes of the 1980 Award: 1) the Turtle Mountain Band; 2) the Chippewa Cree Tribe; 3) the White Earth Band; 4) the Little Shell Tribe; and 5) as a group, NMLDs determined by the Interior Department to be lineal descendants of the Pembina Band eligible to share in the distribution of the 1980 Award, but who were not members of any of the 1980 Award beneficiary tribes. The 1982 Distribution Act provided that eighty percent (80%) of each of the Pembina Judgment Fund four beneficiary tribes’ shares of the 1980 Award be distributed by the Interior Department to individual tribe members determined by the Interior Department to be eligible to share in the distribution of the 1980 Award, and that principals of twenty percent (20%) remain in trust for each of the beneficiary tribes, with the earnings on the 20% principals available for use for approved tribal programs. The 1982 Distribution Act further provided that one hundred percent (100%) of the NMLDs’ shares of the 1980 Award be distributed by the Interior Department to each NMLD determined by the Interior Department to be eligible to share in the distribution of the 1980 Award. The Defendants held a portion of the 1980 Award funds in trust and in common for at least eight (8) years, and a portion of the 1980 Award funds in trust and in common for at least fourteen (14) years, before they began to distribute them in 1988 and 1994. Defendants continue to hold in trust the 20% principal shares of the 1980 Award of the four beneficiary tribes under the 1982 Distribution Act.

On September 30, 1992, the Chippewa Cree Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band and the Little Shell Tribe, filed the CFC Companion Case. A fourth Tribal Plaintiff, the White Earth Band, was added to the CFC Companion Case in 2006. The Tribal Plaintiffs filed the CFC Companion Case on their own behalf and on behalf of other Pembina Judgment Fund beneficiaries who are individuals. The Tribal Plaintiffs sought, among other things, monetary compensation relating to the United States’ accounting and investment of the Pembina Judgment Fund. After years of court proceedings and settlement negotiations, in November 2020, the parties approved a comprehensive settlement that they had reached to resolve and settle all of the claims of the Pembina Judgment Fund Tribal Plaintiffs in the CFC Companion Case and the Individual Plaintiffs in this case.

[1]
Formerly known as Leslie Ann Wilkie Peltier, et al. v. Scott de la Vega, et al., since under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d), a public officer’s successor is automatically substituted as a party.