Umatilla tribes reach $20M settlement with feds

A tribal spokesman said the federal government's incomplete records means no one knows how much the tribes should be compensated

Rex Buck, left, of the Wanapum tribe and Thomas Morning Owl, right, of the Umatilla, perform in a blessing ceremony to prepare Sacajawea State Park near Pasco, Wash., for its future art installations on Friday, Oct. 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Jackie Johnston)

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — An American Indian tribe in Oregon will receive $20 million as part of a $429 million settlement between the U.S. government and 17 tribes.

The East Oregonian says the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and others alleged that the federal government had mismanaged money and natural resources held in trust for the tribes.

Tribal spokesman Chuck Sams says the Umatilla tribes sued the federal government decades ago because it failed to properly compensate them for land use easement agreements for things like timber and agriculture.

Sams said the federal government’s incomplete records means no one knows how much the tribes should be compensated. But he credited the Obama administration for its responsiveness.

The Oregon tribe will get $17.9 million, with another $2 million going to the Native American Rights Fund and $100,000 to an investment advisory firm.

The settlement was announced last week by the Departments of Justice and Interior.