Kevin Washburn: Settlements with Indian Country hit $8B mark

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn. Photo from Bureau of Indian Affairs

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tallies up the value of Cobell, tribal and water rights settlements under President Barack Obama:
Since Obama took office, the administration has established a new relationship with Indian tribes. This has involved annual meetings for tribal leaders with the White House, new commitments across the federal government to consult with Indian tribes on matters that affect their interests and the settlement of litigation fairly and expeditiously.

Together with Congress, the president and secretaries of the Interior Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar, working with Solicitor Hilary Tompkins (a New Mexico lawyer) and the Department of Justice, settled the protracted Cobell litigation for $3.4 billion and several significant water rights cases, including one involving four New Mexico Pueblos, for a total of $2.6 billion.

Today’s settlement agreement with the Navajo Nation is particularly important.

It marks an important milestone in the Obama administration’s commitment to honoring the special trust relationship the U.S. owes Native American tribes.

The administration has now settled more than 80 individual cases brought by Indian tribes, including the settlement announced today, for a total of more than $2 billion. In total, settlements with Indian tribes have exceeded $8 billion.

Get the Story:
Kevin Washburn: Great nations can work on mistakes (The Albuquerque Journal 9/26)

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