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Tribe Claims U.S. Withheld More Than $2 Million In Federal Funds

TUCSON, ARIZ. (CN) - The government wrongfully withheld more than $2 million owed to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the tribe claims in Federal Court.

From 1993 to 1996, the tribe had at least five contracts with the Indian Health Services division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. IHS let the tribe "draw down" and carry over contract money for three years, but later claimed the tribe owed it more than $1.5 million, the complaint states.The department allegedly sent notices of the delinquent account that failed to comply with federal laws and regulations.

In November 2006 the government cut off all federal funds, forcing the tribe to absorb the cost of health care, education and other programs funded by the Act. The tribe says the government missed its opportunity to dispute the debt, so collection is time-barred. It wants the DHHS to release the money it withheld over the past two years. See complaint.

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