US to Pay Indian Tribes $1B Over Mismanagement

Some disputes over land, resources more than 100 years old
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2012 6:08 AM CDT
President Obama listens as Hartford “Sonny” Black Eagle delivers remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference Dec. 2, 2011, at the Interior Department in Washington.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(Newser) – The White House has settled with 41 Indian tribes to the tune of $1.023 billion in disputes over the federal mismanagement of trust funds and resources, reports Indian Country. Some of the disputes are more than 100 years old. It's among the largest financial settlements to Indian tribes in the US, made because the Interior and Treasury departments failed to properly oversee concessions on Indian lands for natural resources, including minerals, timber, oil, and gas. In addition, the Interior Department, which oversees 100,000 leases and 2,500 trust accounts for hundreds of tribes, has agreed to a new accounting system to avoid these disputes in the future.

A complicated formula will determine each tribe's payout, reports the New York Times, which will range from $380 million for the 16,000-member Osage tribe in Oklahoma to just $2 million to the 40,000-member Minnesota Chippewa tribe. About 60 similar lawsuits remain outstanding. The chairman of the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Idaho praised the Obama administration. “They have kept their promise to Native Americans to ensure we are heard in Washington,” he said. “He has not made treaties with us, but he gave us his word. And his word has been golden.”

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