Court Overturns Accounting Order for Indian Claims

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A federal appeals court decided Tuesday that it was unreasonable to require a historical accounting of money the government has been managing for American Indians, saying the bookkeeping would "take 200 years."

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the government and the Indians in their effort to block a lower court order for a detailed tally of money owed the Indians going back to 1887.

The accounting had been ordered by Judge Royce Lamberth of Federal District Court, who is overseeing a class-action lawsuit in which thousands of Indians contend that they were cheated out of more than $100 billion in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties overseen by the Interior Department.

In their appeals, the government and the Indians estimated that the accounting ordered by Judge Lamberth would cost up to $13 billion - far more than was reasonable.

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