After 16 years of legal proceedings, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the final settlement of the Cobell class action law suit. Native Americans sued the federal government over mismanagement of tribal royalties and land, which has been held in trust by the federal government since the 1800s. The suit accused the government of mismanaging $150 billion in royalties, but the settlement is for $3.4 billion. Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming has 6,000-8,000 beneficiaries.
But Eastern Shoshone Business Council member, Orville St. Clair, says the checks won’t do that much good in the community.
"When Cobell first started they were talking around 86 billion dollar range. Over time that was reduced down to the present award. It’s not going to have very much of an impact. In fact, one tribal leader from Montana mentioned, when the numbers started to come down, probably one good trip to WalMart."
$1.5 billion will go to class members for mismanagement claims. $1.9 billion will be used to acquire land that has been fractioned, or divided into small sections that are hard to use or sell. Of that, about $60 million may be set aside for scholarships for Native Americans to attend school. Checks could start arriving as soon as December.