The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay forty-one American Indian tribes $1.023 billion because the Interior and Treasury Departments failed to adequately oversee concessions on Indian lands from companies that exploit resources, including minerals, timber, oil and gas.
Tribes have long accused the Interior Department, which manages about 56 million acres for Indian tribes, of doing a poor job of keeping track of the tribal funds it maintains and of not being diligent in collecting fees from companies that hold leases in Indian country. The Interior Department manages about 2,500 trust accounts for more than 250 tribes.
The Interior Department says it has developed better accounting systems to avoid future problems.
About sixty other lawsuits by tribes against the United States have not been settled.
The amount each tribe will receive is based on how much land and money the government held in trust and the value of the concessions. Tribes holding oil and gas concessions generally will receive the most from the settlement.
Many tribes have not decided how to spend the money. They are considering making monthly payments to members, establishing loan programs, financing social service groups, improving infrastructure on reservations, and undertaking environmental initiatives.
Some tribes will get the money as early as next week.
President Obama signed legislation in December 2010 authorizing payment for a similar settlement for Indians. That $3.4 billion, has not been distributed.
Via The New York Times.