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.

Checks were mailed out by United States Postal Service first-class mail on September 20, 2023, and can take a few weeks to be delivered. If you are an eligible Class Member, and have not received a check by October 11, 2023, please call the Settlement Administration Information Telephone Helpline toll-free at (833) 999-9915.

IMPORTANT DATES
Check Mailing Date
September 20, 2023 (to be deposited/cashed until March 18, 2024)
Last Date to Update Name/Address and Request Check Reissue
May 15, 2024 (to be deposited/cashed until July 1, 2024)

COURT DOCUMENTS

IMPORTANT DATES
Check Mailing Date
September 20, 2023 (to be deposited/cashed until March 18, 2024)
Last Date to Update Name/Address and Request Check Reissue
May 15, 2024 (to be deposited/cashed until July 1, 2024)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

BASIC INFORMATION

1. Why Did I Get This Notice?

You have received this Notice because you were an Original Individual Beneficiary of the 1964 and/or the 1980 Pembina Judgment Fund Award(s), or records show that you are an authorized Legal Representative for a Settlement Class Member or the First or Second-Line Heir to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary for whom contact information was available.

The Court ordered this Notice to be sent to you by the Court-approved Settlement Administrator for this lawsuit, Class Experts Group, LLC, because the Court has granted Preliminary and Final Approval of the Class Action Settlement Agreement and you had a right to know about the Settlement Agreement and all of the options available to you before the Court decided whether to grant Final Approval to the Settlement Agreement. This Notice describes the lawsuit, the Class Action Settlement Agreement, your legal rights, the benefits available, and who is eligible for the benefits.

The Court in charge of this lawsuit is the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The legal action that is the subject of this Notice and the Settlement is styled Leslie Ann Wilkie Peltier, et al. v. Debra Haaland,[1] et al., Case No. 1:20-cv-03775, filed December 21, 2020, also known as “Pembina.”

2. What Is the Settlement About?
The Pembina Judgment Fund Awards

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.

The Distributions of the Awards

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 Non-Member Lineal Descendants (“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 before 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 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. 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.

The CFC Companion Case

On September 30, 1992, the Chippewa Cree Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band and the Little Shell Tribe, filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims (now known as “the CFC Companion Case”) regarding the United States’ accounting and management of the Pembina Judgment Fund. 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.

3. Why Is This Lawsuit A Class Action?

Because of certain procedural limitations in the United States Court of Federal Claims in relation to the claims of individuals, it was decided that the Pembina Judgment Fund Tribal Plaintiffs’ claims would be settled in the CFC Companion Case, but that the Pembina Judgment Fund Individual Plaintiffs’ claims would be best resolved in a United States District Court. That resulted in the filing of the Class Action that is the subject of this Notice. In a class action, one or more plaintiffs, called “named plaintiffs” or “class representatives,” sue on behalf of people who have similar claims based on similar facts. A court resolves the issues for all members of the class.

4. How Do I Know If I Am A Member of The Settlement Class?

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

5. What Does the Settlement Provide?

The total amount of the Settlement Proceeds for this Class Action and the Tribal Plaintiffs’ CFC Companion Case is Fifty-Nine Million Dollars ($59,000,000.00), less any applicable Offsets or Levies by the United States Department of the Treasury. 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 follows:
    1. The total amount allocated to the Chippewa Cree Tribe is One Million Twenty-Seven Thousand Nine Hundred and Thirty-Nine Dollars ($1,027,939.00);
    2. The total amount allocated to the Turtle Mountain Band is Six Million Eight Hundred 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 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 Forty-One Thousand Six Hundred and 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.

6. How Much Will My Payment Be?

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) 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) 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.  

7. How Can I Receive A Payment?

When Settlement Distribution payments begin, if you are an Original Individual Beneficiary, a Settlement Distribution payment will be issued to you. You do not have to do anything unless you have recently moved or have a change of address, in which case you must provide your new and updated mailing address to the Settlement Administrator.

Legal Representatives and Eligible Heirs wishing to receive Settlement Distribution payments had to complete and sign the Claim Form, attach copies of all required supporting documents, and return the entire Claim Form package directly to the Settlement Administrator, postmarked on or before December 19, 2021.  The date to submit a Claim Form has passed.

A Settlement Distribution payment that is due to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary will be made to only ONE Legal Representative; or, ONE Eligible Heir to the Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary.

8. When Would I Receive My Payment?

Settlement Distribution payments are conditional on several matters, including, eligibility determinations and other considerations as set forth in the Settlement Agreement. It is estimated that these matters and events likely will take eight (8) months to two (2) years to commence and complete.

9. Could I Have Excluded myself from, or Opted-Out of The Settlement?

Yes, you had the right to Exclude yourself from / Opt-out of the Settlement Class.

To Exclude / Opt-out, you had to send a request in writing to the Settlement Administrator stating that you wished to be Excluded / Opted-out from the Settlement Class. Class Counsel and the Settlement Administrator reserved the right to verify that the submitted information meets the Exclusion / Opt-out Requirements in the Class Action Settlement Agreement.

  1. Exclusion / Opt-out requests made by any Settlement Class Member who is an Original Individual Beneficiary had to include:
    1. Full name, address, and date of birth; and
    2. A statement of intent to be an Exclusion / Opt-out.
  2. Exclusion / Opt-out requests made by any Legal Representative of a Settlement Class Member had to include:
    1. The Settlement Class Member’s name, address and date of birth;
    2. The Legal Representative’s name, address and date of birth;
    3. Proof of Identity of the Legal Representative;
    4. Proof of Death of the Settlement Class Member, if applicable;
    5. Proof of Legal Representation—the appropriate will, Estate, Probate, appointment, retention, or approval documentation of the Legal Representative status; and
    6. A statement of intent to be an Exclusion / Opt-out.
  3. Exclusion / Opt-out requests made by First-Line Heirs and Second-Line Heirs had to include:
    1. The Original Individual Beneficiary’s name, address and date of birth;
    2. The First-Line Heir’s or Second-Line Heir’s name, address and date of birth;
    3. Proof of Death of the Original Individual Beneficiary;
    4. Proof of Identity of the Eligible Heir;
    5. Proof of Heirship for the First-Line Heir or Second-Line Heir; and
    6. A statement of intent to be an Exclusion / Opt-out.

Written requests to Exclude / Opt-out had to be postmarked on or before April 29, 2021, and mailed to the address below:

Pembina Settlement Administrator
c/o Class Experts Group, LLC
EXCLUSIONS
P.O. Box 995
Mequon, WI 53092

Exclusion / Opt-out requests COULD NOT HAVE been submitted by email.

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU

10. Do I Have A Lawyer in The Lawsuit?

The Court has appointed the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), headquartered at 1506 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80302, to serve as Class Counsel for the Settlement Class). You have the right to appear on your own behalf in this lawsuit or to retain legal counsel of your choosing at your own expense.

11. How Will the Lawyers Be Paid?

The Court has allocated Class Counsel Fees, Expenses, and Costs in the amount of Five Million Eight Hundred Ninety-Two Thousand Four Hundred Eighty Dollars ($5,892,480.00). This amount will be paid to Class Counsel from the Settlement Proceeds.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY CLASS COUNSEL FEES

12. Could I Have Objected to The Settlement?

If you wanted to Object to the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement, you had to do so if you had remained a Settlement Class Member.

Settlement Class Members who wished to Object to the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement had to state their Objections in writing and send the Objections directly to the Settlement Administrator. The postmarked deadline for Objections was April 29, 2021.

  1. All Objections by Original Individual Beneficiaries had to include:
    1. The Original Individual Beneficiary’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number, if any;
    2. The specific term(s) or condition(s) of this Class Action Settlement Agreement to which the Original Individual Beneficiary objects; and
    3. A statement about whether the objecting Original Individual Beneficiary intends to appear at the Fairness Hearing.
  2. All Objections by Legal Representatives of Settlement Class Members had to include:
    1. The Settlement Class Member’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number;
    2. The name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number, if any, of the Legal Representative, as well as a copy of the appropriate will, Estate, Probate, appointment, retention, or approval documentation of the Legal Representative’s status;
    3. Proof of Identity of the Legal Representative;
    4. Proof of Death of the Settlement Class Member, if applicable;
    5. The specific term(s) or condition(s) of this Class Action Settlement Agreement to which the Legal Representative Objects; and
    6. A statement about whether the objecting Legal Representative intends to appear at the Fairness Hearing.
  3. All Objections by First-Line Heirs and Second-Line Heirs had to include:
    1. The Original Individual Beneficiary’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number, if any;
    2. The First-Line Heir’s or Second-Line Heir’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number, if any;
    3. Proof of Death of the Original Individual Beneficiary;
    4. Proof of Identity of the Eligible Heir;
    5. Proof of Heirship for the First-Line Heir or Second-Line Heir;
    6. The specific term(s) or condition(s) of this Class Action Settlement Agreement to which the First-Line Heir or Second-Line Heir Objects; and
    7. A statement about whether the objecting First-Line Heir or Second-Line Heir intends to appear at the Fairness Hearing.

YOUR WRITTEN OBJECTION HAD TO BE POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN APRIL 29, 2021, AND MAILED TO THE ADDRESS BELOW:

Pembina Settlement Administrator
c/o Class Experts Group, LLC
OBJECTIONS
P.O. Box 995
Mequon, WI 53092

Class Counsel and the Settlement Administrator had the right to verify that the submitted information meets the Objection Requirements. Objections COULD NOT HAVE BEEN submitted by email.

THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING

13. When and Where Did the Court Decide Whether to Approve the Settlement?

The Court conducted a Fairness Hearing on June 10, 2021, at 2:00 PM EDT, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001. In advance of the Hearing, the Court determined that remote participation was possible for the Hearing, and the details of that participation were provided upon request.  During the Fairness Hearing, the Court determined whether the terms and conditions of the Class Action Settlement Agreement were fair and reasonable. Because all terms and conditions were fair, on June 23, 2021, the Court granted Final Approval of the Class Action Settlement Agreement.  You had the right to attend the Hearing in person if you chose to do so, at your own expense.

SETTLEMENT PROCEEDS DISTRIBUTION:

A Settlement Distribution payment that is due to a Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary will be made to only ONE Legal Representative; or, ONE Eligible Heir to the Deceased Original Individual Beneficiary.

REISSUANCES OF SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION PAYMENTS DURING THE SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION PERIOD:

Can I Get My Check Reissued?

  1. If any Settlement Distribution payments are returned because they are undeliverable as transmitted, the Settlement Administrator shall void and re-issue the returned payments (or cause the returned payments to be voided and re-issued) using available corrected or updated addresses or other contact information.
  2. If any Settlement Class Members lose or misplace their Settlement Distribution payments before negotiating, depositing, or processing them, and the Settlement Class Members inform the Settlement Administrator of that loss or misplacement, the Settlement Administrator shall stop payment (or cause payment to be stopped) on the lost or misplaced Settlement Distribution payments and further re-issue the payments, in accordance with industry practice.
  3. If any Settlement Class Members change their names and/or addresses or other contact information before they have negotiated, deposited, or processed their Settlement Distribution payments and they inform the Settlement Administrator of the changes, the Settlement Administrator shall update the Settlement Distribution records and re-issue or stop payment and re-issue (or cause to be re-issued or cause payment to be stopped and re-issued) in accordance with the name and/or address changes or other contact information, if available, in accordance with industry practice.

How Do I request to have a Check Reissued?
If you need to request a reissue of your check, please call the Settlement Administration Information Telephone Line toll-free at 1-833-999- 9915 for detailed instructions. The deadline for requesting reissues of checks or name and/or address changes is May 15, 2024.

INFORMATION REGARDING TREASURY OFFSETS AND TAXES

What is the Treasury Offset Program?
Treasury Offset or Levy is the sum of money, if any, that the United States Department of the Treasury may be required to deduct under federal law, including 31 U.S.C. § 3716 and 26 U.S.C. § 6331, for the purpose of collecting delinquent debts, if any, owed to the United States, or any State that voluntarily participates in the Treasury Offset Program.

Information Regarding Effect of Federal Income Tax Implications of this Class Action Settlement Agreement.
Settlement Class Members may utilize the procedures available to every taxpayer under Internal Revenue Service Procedures 2018-1, 2018-3, and their successor Revenue Procedures, for seeking information concerning the federal income tax implications of this Class Action Settlement Agreement. Please do not contact the Settlement Administrator regarding any tax questions, as they are not in a position to give out such advice.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION

14. How Do I Get More Information?

For additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, you may call the Settlement Administration Information Telephone Line for this lawsuit, which is an automated informational toll-free helpline at (833) 999-9915, or, you may visit the Settlement Administration Information Website for this lawsuit, which is www.PembinaSettlement.com or you may email info@PembinaSettlement.com

Please do not contact the Court. The Court is not in a position to provide you with information about the Settlement.


[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.