A federal judge has approved a $193 million settlement agreement between the United States and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the funds should be transferred to the Colville Tribes within the next two months, Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley announced today.
“We are pleased that the necessary final federal action has been taken in this matter, and look forward to making the best possible uses of the settlement for the Colville Tribes, our members, and the restoration of our environment,” Finley said.
The settlement is one of the largest Indian trust mismanagement settlements in US history. The Colvilles’ tribal trust lawsuit was one of several dozen similar cases against the federal government that have been pending for the past decade. The Court also approved settlements in more than 40 other tribal trust cases.
“The judge’s approval memorializes the terms of our settlement and brings closure to this matter in one sense, but in another way, our work has just begun,” Finley said. “It is important that we start the work of restoring our tribal forests, rangeland and other natural resources immediately.”
Finley said that twenty percent of the settlement will be set aside for distribution to the Tribes’ membership, which numbers about 9,500.
“We recognize that a portion of the money should go directly to our members,” he said. “It’s also appropriate that we use the bulk of the settlement proceeds to improve the long-term health of our natural resources and provide a lasting benefit to our people for generations to come.”
He said that the CBC has been working diligently to develop a plan for the best uses of the settlement funds and will keep the membership informed of its progress.