Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Interior Accused of Shortchanging Indians

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A court-appointed investigator has resigned from the multibillion-dollar lawsuit by American Indians against the Interior Department, contending the government wanted him off the case after he found evidence that energy companies got special treatment at the expense of impoverished Indians.

Alan Balaran, the special master in the case, contends his findings could have cost the companies millions of dollars and that department officials with ties to the industry ``could not let this happen.''

``Justice has been much too long in coming for the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. ... Billions of dollars are at stake,'' according to the resignation letter made public Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.