WASHINGTON – In an historic gesture, the Obama administration announced today the settlement of tribal trust claims with 41 American Indian tribes that total just over $1 billion. The announcement was carried live from the White House on the Native News Network.
Hall of Tribal Nations – Interior Department, Washington DC
These settlements resolve claims dating back more than 100 years and will bring to an end protracted litigation that has burdened both the plaintiffs and the United States. Ending these long-running disputes about the United States' management of trust funds and non-monetary trust resources will allow the United States and the tribes to move beyond the distrust exacerbated by years of litigation. These settlement agreements represent a significant milestone in the improvement of the United States' relationship with Indian tribes.
Prior to becoming president, Candidate Barack Obama promised to settle the vast number of tribal trust cases pending against the United States by American Indian tribes and, in some cases, individuals. As president, he has worked diligently to resolve many of the tribal disputes.
“President Obama has done more for us than the last five presidents put together have done,”
Stated Chief James Allan, Coeur d'Alene at the White House settlement event today.
“President Obama has not made treaties, but gets things done. His word has been golden.”
Two Cabinet members were part of the White House event:
US Attorney General Eric Holder and
US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
"These settlements fairly and honorably resolve historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands, and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States,"
said Attorney General Holder.
"Our commitment to tribes is the cornerstone of the Department of Justice's policies and initiatives in Indian Country, and these settlements will enable the tribal community to pursue the goals and objectives they deem to be appropriate while marking another step in our shared future built upon mutual respect and strong bonds of trust between tribal governments and the United States."
“These important settlements reflect President Obama's continuing commitment to ensuring empowerment and reconciliation for American Indians,”
said Secretary Salazar.
"It strengthens the government to government relationship with Tribal nations, helps restore a positive working relationship with Indian Country leaders and empowers American Indian communities. I want to commend Attorney General Holder, our Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins and other key officials who were involved in the long negotiations leading to these historic agreements. I look forward to working with Tribal leaders to further strengthen our government to government relationship based on mutual respect and a shared concern for the proper management of tribal trust assets and funds."
The Department of the Interior manages almost 56 million acres of trust lands for federally-recognized tribes and more than 100,000 leases on those lands for various uses, including housing, timber harvesting, farming, grazing, oil and gas extraction, business leasing, rights-of-way and easements. Interior also manages about 2,500 tribal trust accounts for more than 250 tribes.
Starting in the fall of 2009, lawyers for many of the tribes with litigation pending against the United States wrote to the president and asked the administration to engage in expedited settlement discussions with their clients.
In April 2010, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division Ignacia Moreno, Interior Department Solicitor Hilary Tompkins and Treasury Department General Counsel George Madison met with attorneys for the tribes, and the parties embarked on a settlement process that the tribes termed the "Settlement Proposal to Obama Administration," or "SPOA," which led in part to today's announcement.
“We recognize the efforts of – and very much appreciate – this administration,”
Gary Hayes, tribal chairman of the Ute Mountain Tribe.
“Today's settlements allow the United States to recognize its trust responsibility to tribes. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The sum total of the settlements with the 41 tribes is approximately $1.023 billion.
The 41 Tribes
Below is the list of the American Indian tribes that are part of the Settlement Proposal to Obama Administration:
Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians
Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of Colusa Rancheria
Coeur d'Alene Tribe
Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation
Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of Arizona
Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians
Makah Tribe of the Makah Reservation
Mescalero Apache Nation
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
Nez Perce Tribe
Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine
Pueblo of Zia
Quechan Indian Tribe of the Fort Yuma Reservation
Rincon Luiseño Band of Indians
Round Valley Tribes
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Santee Sioux Tribe
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians
Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of the Fort Yates Reservation
Swinomish Tribal Indian Community
Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians
Tohono O'odham Nation
Tule River Tribe
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation