Courts & Crime

Obama administration reaches mega-million dollar settlement with Navaho Nation

Ending one front in a decades-long legal battle, the Obama administration announced it had reached a $554 million settlement with the Navaho Nation over land management and trust accounting problems.

Some of the claims date back some 50 years.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined Justice Department officials and others at a ceremony held to mark the settlement in Window Rock, Ariz.

“The historic agreement strengthens the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Navajo Nation, helps restore a positive working relationship with the Nation’s leaders and empowers Navajo communities,” Jewell said.

In return for the $554 million payment, the Navajo Nation will dismiss its current lawsuit and forego further litigation regarding the United States’ historic management or accounting of Navajo funds or resources held in the trust.

The Navaho settlement follows one announced in April 2012, when the administration announced settlements with 41 tribes for about $1 billion. The Justice Department said Friday it is working to resolve the “numerous other cases” that are still pending.

The Interior Department manages almost 56 million acres of trust lands for federally-recognized tribes and more than 100,000 leases on those lands for various uses, including housing, timber harvesting, farming and oil and gas extraction, among other things. Interior also manages about 2,500 tribal trust accounts for more than 250 tribes.