Tribal members hear terms of settlement

20 percent will go to individuals


The only thing certain about how a $193 million settlement with the U.S. government will be used is that 20 percent of it will be paid out to members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Exactly how and when the $38.6 million in annual “per capitas” will be distributed from a trust account is also undecided. But an initial payment will likely come in August, notes an information sheet distributed at district meeting in Nespelem Monday night.

News media independent of the tribes were excluded from the meeting, but Colville Business Council Chair Michael Finley, of Inchelium, said Tuesday the meeting with Nespelem District members, the first of four district meetings planned on the subject, went well.

“I think a lot of education took place,” Finley said, noting that he didn’t stay for the entire meeting.

He declined to comment in detail until after all meetings were held. He said the agreement would become public after it is accepted by the court.

The lead attorney in the settlement, tribal member Brian Gunn, of the Washington, D.C. law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, explained the terms and reasoning behind the settlement for damages claimed in the 2005 law suit against the Dept. of Interior for mismanagement of tribal trust assets.

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“The funds were agreed upon by the United States Government because the Colville Tribes was able to show extensive damages due to BIA mismanagement of tribal resources — damages to timber and lease lands, for example,” the information sheet states.

The brief states that of the remaining $154.4 million, much would be used to restore damages to tribal lands and resources, and that other projects would be “determined through a planning process” for which the Colville Business Council would seek membership input.

A survey sheet produced by Councilmember Ricky Gabriel, of Nespelem, lists some 79 options for other uses of the money, ranging from building a casino in Moses Lake to spending on adoption and foster homes.

In the meantime, the money should be invested, the sheet says, and the CBC will seek a financial firm for that job through a formal Request for Proposals process.


Reader Comments

Incheliumer writes:

Jesse, the writer only states that news media were excluded, not that he felt he should be included.

Jesse writes:

My question is as a tribal member is why did you feel as a reporter that you are welcome to join this tribal members ONLY meeting?