Verdicts & Settlements

US will pay Navajo Nation $554M to settle suit claiming mismanagement of resources

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Harrison Tsosie

Harrison Tsosie, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation, announces the settlement at Window Rock, Arizona, on Friday. Screenshot from the livestream by the Navajo Nation Council.

The United States has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $554 million in a record settlement with an American tribe in litigation over mismanagement of tribal resources.

The payment settles a 2006 lawsuit claiming that the U.S. government failed to maximize profits when it leased Navajo land for purposes such as farming, housing, coal mining and oil extraction, report the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The agreement also settles allegations that the government didn’t ensure that proper royalties were paid and didn’t invest the money to get an appropriate return.

The settlement will be signed in Arizona today.

The deal settles claims of past mismanagement, but it doesn’t affect current or potential claims in connection with water rights or health problems caused by uranium mining. The tribe’s president plans to hold town hall meetings to consider what to do with the money.

Including the latest settlement, the United States has agreed to pay $2.61 billion to 80 tribes to settle claims of U.S. mismanagement of tribal land and investments. Until this date, the highest settlement was $380 million, paid to the Osage tribe in Oklahoma.

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