U.S. To Pay Tribes $1 Billion To Settle Land Dispute
April 12, 2012

The federal government will pay more than a billion dollars to forty-one American Indian tribes to settle a long-standing dispute. The tribes argue federal agencies mismanaged their assets and natural resources.

The settlements resolve claims dating back more than a century to the Dawes Act, which gave Indian land to white-owned companies. Each Indian family was assigned a plot of land to use, and was to be "compensated" in perpetuity for the use of the rest of their land. Tribes never received the money owed to them.

Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman Gary Hayes told reporters Wednesday all tribes have a dark chapter of history with the federal government.

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"We remember our history of our people and draw from their strength and their prayers to overcome the trials and tribulations that we face today," Hayes said. "The seeds that we plant today will profit us in the future."

Hayes said the settlement money will go to improve the tribes’ infrastructure and health care after decades of inadequate funding.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the settlements bring closure to long, fruitless litigation that has burdened tribes and the federal government for too long.

"All of them address major sources of distrust and division between tribes and the US allowing us to move forward to support and to empower to empower tribal nations," Holder said.

Holder said his staff continues to negotiate with other tribes. But that this week’s agreement is a significant milestone in the improvement of the United States' relationship with Indian tribes.

The 41 American Indian Tribes: Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Blackfeet Tribe, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians, Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of Colusa Rancheria, Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of Arizona, Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians, Makah Tribe of the Makah Reservation, Mescalero Apache Nation, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Nooksack Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine, Pawnee Nation, Pueblo of Zia, Quechan Indian Tribe of the Fort Yuma Reservation, Rincon Luiseño Band of Indians, Round Valley Tribes, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Santee Sioux Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation, Spokane Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of the Fort Yates Reservation, Swinomish Tribal Indian Community, Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, Tohono O'odham Nation, Tulalip Tribe, Tule River Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.