The U.S. government will pay $3.4 billion to settle a long-running lawsuit against the Interior Department for mismanaging the revenue in Native American trust funds. As part of the settlement, the government will pay $1.4 billion directly to members of Indian tribes and establish a $2 billion fund to buy land from Native Americans. The settlement also creates a $60 million federal scholarship to improve access to higher education for Indian youth. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in announcing the settlement, said “We are here to right a past wrong.” The settlement must still be approved by the U.S. Congress and the court.
Under the settlement, most of the 300,000 individual Indians who were part of the class action lawsuit would receive at least $1,500 each. The Interior Department was sued 13 years ago for mishandling the revenue in Indian trust funds going back to 1887. The fund includes 10 million acres of land owned by individual Indians and 46 million acres belonging to Indian tribes.
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