Law | National | Trust

Leech Lake Band receives $3.5M in trust fund settlement

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians in Minnesota will receive $3.5 million through a trust fund settlement with the federal government.

The Leech Lake Band is one of 41 tribes that are a part of a $1 billion settlement announced on Wednesday. The deal resolves claims for a historical accounting of the tribe's trust funds and mismanagement of the tribe's trust assets.

"After careful review and deliberation, the tribal council agreed to accept and approve the proposed settlement," Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose said. "Thanks to the extremely detailed and comprehensive analyses of a number of highly-qualified experts, the Leech Lake Band had a thorough understanding of where past mismanagement had occurred. We were able to get to the final settlement amount by demonstrating how mismanagement of the band's assets resulted in significant monetary damages."

Hedi Bogda, a member of the Leech Lake Band, is an attorney with the Leech Lake Legal Department. She served as legal counsel on the case and said the settlement was a positive step forward.

"The inherent risks of litigation and the willingness of the Department of Justice to address these issues in a fair and honorable manner made the settlement by far the best option," Bogda said. "This settlement agreement represents a significant milestone in the improvement of the United States’ relationship with Indian tribes."

LaRose pointed out that the settlement does not affect pending legislation to distribute a $28 million trust fund to the six bands of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The tribe could still pursue litigation related to the Nelson Act, he said.

"We will keep our band membership informed of the settlement progress, and hope to receive the funds within the next year," LaRose said. "Although there is no comprehensive formal plan in place on the long-term use of the funds, we hope to receive constructive feedback and input from the membership on our most critical needs."

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