On Sept 28, 2014, the feds paid $554 million to settle a lawsuit by the Navajo Nation asserting that the federal government mismanaged tribal funds and natural resources.
Here's what AZCentral had to say:
Six things you need to know about the settlement:
- U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and other federal and tribal officials are scheduled to attend the signing event, which marks the largest settlement ever paid by the federal government to an Indian tribe.
- The dispute stems from charges that the federal government failed to manage, invest and account for tribal funds and resources in relation to the exploitation of oil, gas and other minerals. The tribe has more than 14 million acres of trust lands used to produce revenue.
- The Navajo Nation is the most populous Native American tribe in the United States, with more than 300,000 members. It has the largest reservation in the country, encompassing more than 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It is larger than 10 of the 50 states.
- Under the agreement, the Navajo Nation will dismiss its lawsuit against the federal government and forgo further litigation regarding the federal government's past management and accounting of Navajo funds and resources held in trust by the United States. The Navajo Nation and the federal government also pledged to improve communication concerning funds and resources in the future.
- Shelly, the tribal president, plans to hold town hall meetings with tribal members around the reservation to get direction about how to use or disburse the settlement money.
- The settlement is one in a series of similar actions. The federal government reached settlements with 41 tribes for about $1 billion in April 2012, and with almost 40 other tribes for a combined $1.5 billion since then. The federal government currently is involved in discussions with yet more tribes on cases that are still pending. And in an unrelated case, the Justice Department announced in April that a private mining concern would pay the Navajo Nation nearly $1 billion to clean up roughly 50 abandoned uranium mines on tribal lands.