Feds Agree to Pay Indian Tribes $940 Million

     (CN) – The government said it will settle a 25-year legal fight with Indian tribes over their costs to carry out federal programs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to the tune of $940 million.
     Several Indian tribes sued the federal government after Congress capped appropriations to pay tribes for what they spend carrying out the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act in 1994. The cap fell well below what the tribes spent on the federally mandated programs.
     In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the government to cover the shortfall – at that time 17 years’ worth of shortfalls – in a 5-4 decision.
     The Justice and Interior departments said Thursday the settlement was reached “only after years of complex negotiations following the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter.”
     A $940 million lump-sum payment will be made to resolve the tribes’ claims for contract support costs for 1994 through 2013 – the tribes share of the costs in carrying out the well-being programs, the Justice Department said.
     The settlement also establishes a system for the 645 affected tribes and tribal contractors to collect their fair share of the settlement money. The tribes agreed to a minimum payment for each year a self-determination contract existed so that no tribe is left out of the settlement, the Justice Department said.
     “This agreement does more than simply resolve this pending litigation. It also is an embodiment of a stronger relationship between the United States and the sovereign tribal nations, a relationship that is stronger today than perhaps any time in history,” said Benjamin Mizier, deputy attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s civil division.

%d bloggers like this: