The first payouts from a historic class-action suit against the federal government will be sent to American Indians within the week. The settlement will be split by 500,000 American Indians, including many in the Northwest.
Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell sued the federal government 16 years ago. As treasurer of the Blackfoot Tribe in Montana, she discovered the government had mismanaged individual Indian land held in trust. A settlement was reached in 2009, but a two-year appeals process held up disbursements. Cobell died during that time.
A landmark settlement announced this week between the federal government and Native American tribes is expected to have long-term effects beyond the $1 billion in the agreement. Three Idaho tribes are part of the deal, the Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, and Shoshone-Bannock.
Forty-one tribes filed lawsuits alleging the federal government mismanaged tribal accounts for generations. The accounts held decades of royalties on timber, farming, grazing and other leases on land held in trust for the tribes.