The Obama administration has agreed to pay $492 million to 17 American Indian tribes for the mismanagement of natural resources and other tribal assets.
Melody McCoy, the Native American Rights Fund attorney who handled 13 of the 17 settlements said:
“The U.S. government would say it held the assets in trusts benevolently, for the protection of Indian lands and money. The flip side of that is that in exchange, the government was supposed to be a good trustee, and it wasn’t. Land was not managed well. Money and resources were not managed well.”
The tribes benefiting from the settlements, which range from $25,000 up to $45 million, include the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, The Colorado River Indian Tribes, and the Gila River Indian Community.
The Obama administration has resolved more than 100 lawsuits with American Indian tribes, with settlements totaling more than $3.3 billion.
“It’s a huge deal when you can sit down with the tribal leaders and see in their faces what this settlement will mean for their tribes and the fact they think they are being heard for the first time in a meaningful way,” said Jim Gette of the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division.
But even as the U.S. government pats itself on the back over these settlements regarding the abuse of American Indian land, a federal judge has ruled against the Standing Rock tribe’s request to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The U.S. government is attempting to placate American Indians with money, while it actively threatens their land, resources, and way of life.