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Feds Propose $940 Million Settlement With Native American Tribes


And the U.S. Justice Department has announced a proposed class action settlement with Native American tribes. As Laurel Morales from member station KJZZ reports, the settlement, worth $940 million, will be used to pay the tribes some long overdue money.

LAUREL MORALES, BYLINE: This dispute goes back decades. Under the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act, tribes have local control over services like road maintenance, fire and police. But the federal government pays for them. It's all spelled out in contracts. But Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn says sometimes the appropriations weren't enough to cover the full expenses, like workers' compensation or computer software.

KEVIN WASHBURN: For several years, Congress has not appropriated enough money for all the contracts' costs that we were required by statute to pay. That sometimes created a gap between what we promised to pay and what we actually paid.

MORALES: This settlement does not make up for all tribes' unmet needs, says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

SALLY JEWELL: Settling past grievances, though hard work that sometimes takes many years, in this case decades, is absolutely necessary if we're going to set the stage for moving forward on repairing years of broken promises.

MORALES: The Obama administration has proposed to Congress fully funding all contract costs in the future. A federal district court must approve the settlement. For NPR News, I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.