2011-10-21 "Native American tribe gets $380 million to end lawsuit" from "AFP" newswire
The United States reached a final settlement of $380 million Friday with a Native American tribe to resolve allegations of mismanagement of trust assets in a long-standing lawsuit.
The agreement with the Osage Tribe capped a 12-year dispute over the Interior Department's accounting and management of trust funds and non-monetary trust assets belonging to the Oklahoma tribe, including its mineral estate.
"This historic settlement resolves with finality long-standing trust accounting and trust management claims by the Osage Tribe," Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said after tribal officials celebrated the settlement during a ceremony at the Interior Department's Washington headquarters.
"Today, we come together in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect to recognize an important milestone on a path to a future marked by a stronger government-to-government and trust relationship."
The agreement, which was executed on October 14, came a year after the Department of Agriculture reached a separate, landmark $760 million settlement with Native American farmers and ranchers to resolve claims of discrimination in a government-administered farm loan program.
Under the latest agreement, litigation will end between the Osage Tribe and the Interior Department and the US government will disburse the monies to compensate the tribe for its claims of historical losses to its trust funds and interest income.
Both sides also plan to implement measures to better manage the tribe's trust assets, improve communications with the Interior Department and set dispute resolution provisions to avoid future lawsuits.
Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes said the settlement "demonstrates President (Barack) Obama's commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for American Indian nations."
"This agreement marks a new beginning -- one of just reconciliation, better communication and strengthened management of tribal trust assets," he added.