The Obama administration has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation a record $554 million to settle longstanding claims by America’s largest Indian tribe that its funds and natural resources were mishandled for decades by the U.S. government.
The accord, resolving claims that date back as far as 50 years and marking the biggest U.S. legal settlement with a single tribe, will be formally signed at a ceremony on Friday in Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the sprawling Navajo reservation.
The deal stems from litigation accusing the government of mismanaging Navajo trust accounts and resources on more than 14 million acres (5.7 million hectares) of land held in trust for the tribe and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.
In return for $554 million, the Navajo agreed to dismiss its lawsuit and forego further litigation over previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources held in trust by the federal government.
The deal does not preclude the tribe from pursuing future trust claims, or any separate claims over water and uranium pollution on its reservation, Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said.
He declined to quantify the total sum the Navajo had claimed it was owed before the settlement, saying he needed to review non-disclosure clauses.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly hailed the outcome as a “victory for tribal sovereignty” and promised to host town hall meetings to decide how to allocate settlement funds.
The Navajo Nation is the most populous American Indian tribe, with more than 300,000 members, and the largest by land mass, occupying 27,000 square miles (70,000 sq km) across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
“After a long, hard-won process, I am pleased that we have finally come to a resolution on this matter to receive fair and just compensation for the Navajo Nation,” Shelly said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the agreement historic and said it showed the Justice Department’s commitment to “strengthening our partnership with tribal nations.”
The deal comes over two years after the administration announced similar settlements with 41 tribes for about $1 billion collectively. Since then, the government has resolved breach of trust claims by nearly 40 additional tribes for more than $1.5 billion, a U.S. Justice Department official said.
Shelly publicly disclosed in May that the Navajo had reached an agreement in principle. The sides revealed on Wednesday that the deal had been fully approved and executed.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman from Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)
BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble
On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?
"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.
These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.
Trump brings up Brett Kavanaugh in rage tweet at Democrats about coming impeachment trial
On Saturday, President Donald Trump brought up Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a bizarre rant against the "Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems" and his anger over the direction of the impeachment process:
After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, @BrettKavanaugh, was treated by the Democrats, and now seeing first hand how these same Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems are treating the whole Impeachment Hoax, I understand why so many Dems are voting Republican!
McConnell’s impeachment collusion admission handed the Democrats a powerful new weapon to damage the president
Mitch McConnell's admission on Fox News that he is working behind the scenes with the White House to stack the Senate impeachment trial gives Democrats a potent weapon against the GOP, wrote Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman in the Washington Post.
"If Democrats play their procedural cards right, they can pressure Republicans to allow for a much fairer and more open trial that could actually produce new revelations — and if they refuse, extract a political price for it," they wrote.