"The court-appointed investigator who has been seeking for more than three years to determine the finances of an Indian trust fund administered by the Interior Department resigned on Monday.Maybe the worst of it is, Is that it just seems like business as usual for the powerful energy corporations and a corrupt Beaureau of Indian Affairs under the Dept of the Interior. You'd think James Watts was still in charge.
The official, Alan Balaran, said the government had routinely allowed energy companies to shortchange Indians on royalties from oil, gas, timber and other leases on Indian land.
Balaran accused the department of a persistent effort to impede his work and said he had found a 'systemic failure to properly monitor' the activities of energy companies acquiring oil and gas from Indian land.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth of U.S. District Court here appointed Balaran in 1999 as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell, a banker and Blackfoot Indian from Montana, and more than 300,000 other Indians. They accused the government of cheating them out of as much as $137.5 billion over the past century.
In a letter sent to Lamberth on Monday and made public yesterday, Balaran said that the agency had sought to delay the case by filing frivolous motions, including one requesting that he be disqualified from his duties because of bias.
'The agency's motivation is clear,' Balaran wrote. 'In recent months, I have reported evidence of a practice - abetted by Interior - of energy companies routinely paying individual Indians much less than they pay non-Indians for oil and gas pipeline easements across the Southwest.'
Balaran also said he had discovered that the department had 'destroyed valuable trust information' and that it had 'significant problems with its appraisal and record-keeping practices.'"