Judge extends deadline to OK Indian settlement

WASHINGTON – A judge has set January 7th as the new deadline for Congress to approve a $3.4 billion dollar settlement with hundreds of thousands of American Indians.

The U.S. Senate has adjourned without giving the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Montana.

The suit accuses the federal government of mismanaging billions of dollars held in trust for Indian landowners.

Bill McAllister, a spokesman for the plaintiffs, says U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan told attorneys during a status conference Friday that he wanted to give Congress one last chance to approve the settlement to avoid costly litigation.

Government data estimates there are between 6,000 and 8,000 possible beneficiaries in Wyoming.

The Senate will reconvene Nov. 15. The House has approved the settlement twice since May.