At long last lawsuits filed by American-Indian Tribes are being settled, some of these lawsuits date back 100 years. This year the U.S. government will pay out more than one billion to settle lawsuits filed by as many as 41 different American Indian Tribes. These tribes have accused federal agencies of mismanaging their tribal funds and resources.
Bringing an end to claims dating back more than 100 years many generations are finally getting back the monies owed to them for generations. Grievances over lands that were leased with no accounting for the royalties that were due caused the lawsuits filed by American-Indian tribes began many years ago. For this reason, many individuals are receiving checks varying between $800 to $1000 and this is only the beginning.
There are still at least 60 class action lawsuits still in a pending status against the federal government and their alleged misuse of funds in similar fashions.These include tribes located in Minnesota, Idaho and Oklahoma who have been long awaiting a payout in their lawsuits.
With the North Dakota oil industry booming, American-Indian tribes have been cheated out of more than one million alone. Many claim that the federal government has facilitated this alleged swindle by neglecting its legal obligation to protect the rights of the tribes ensuring that they receive a fair deal for their providing drilling rights to oil companies. Sadly, stories like this have gone on as long as America has been a country.
South Dakota has a different lawsuit going on. According to American-Indian tribes, South Dakota is routinely violating federal laws by the way in which they govern adoption and foster care for American-Indian children. Federal laws require Native American children who are removed from their homes should be placed with other Native American families and relatives. Only in extremely rare cases should these children be place in other types of care with non-Indian families.
Parents contend that the hearings are not long enough to fully determine if the children should be kept out of the home for longer periods and that the parents are barely given a chance to show that they can properly care for their children. Officials have requested that hearings be properly conducted and parents be given the opportunity to prove that they are fully capable of taking care of their children.
It pays to read the fine print. A manufacturing company entered into a stock purchase deal with the Kiowa Tribe. Secured with a promissory note they felt this was a good deal. When the note was defaulted on the company sued the tribe for breach of contract. The company was in shock when the Supreme Court settled in favor of the tribe. Why? The courts acknowledged that the tribe defaulted but, “Indian tribes enjoy sovereign immunity” this includes civil claims on contracts, even if they involve governmental or commercial entities. The reasoning continues on to include that it didn’t matter if the contract was made on or off of the reservations. Only Congress has the authority to waive their immunity.
In May of 2013 a settlement was reached regarding a raid upon reservation trust lands. The suit stated that many federal agents, local police officers were ared with assault rifles and invaded the Yakima National reservations trust lands. They didn’t have any prior notice to the sovereign on whose land they were raiding.
No money will be exchanged in the settlement of this suit however, if they, the defendents, ever enter Yakima Indian Country again, they must first ask permission. Essentially, they’re sorry they forgot to ask permission the first time.
The reason for the raid is that the agents were investigating the sales of untaxed cigarettes (tobacco products) which on many reservations is legal. The suit also accused the agents of violating the 1855 peace treaty. The agents now claim that they’ve learned their lesson and next time will go through the proper channels.
These agreements and settlements are a new beginning of an attempt at reconciliation for the lawsuits filed by American-Indian tribes. As the U.S. continues to investigate lawsuits efforts to protect the reservations are secured in place and more American-Indian tribes are given.