The Choctaw and Chickasaw nations have accepted a combined $186 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of the Interior for the government’s alleged failure to protect trust land in the sale of 1.3 million acres of timberland between 1908 and 1940.
Under the settlement, the Choctaw will receive $139.5 million and the Chickasaw Nation $46.5 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior for a 2005 land-trust-management suit they filed against that agency and other parties, Law360 reported on Friday September 25.
In the December 2005 complaint, Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, the tribes alleged that the sale of the 1.3 million acres of unallotted timberlands under a 1906 federal law violated the Administrative Procedure Act as well as the Fifth Amendment, Law360 said. The government also failed to provide “adequate accounts of their lands and trust funds,” the legal-news site said.
The tribes and the government initially agreed to settle in July, but did not discuss details of the settlement pending final approval by the tribes in question, according to The Oklahoman. The money will be used for education, among other initiatives, the tribes told the newspaper on September 27. The details were filed in court on September 25.
“Our tribes have suffered many, many generations now,” Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby told The Oklahoman. “This settlement that we’ve achieved … is a historic settlement—one that is intended to right the wrongs that were done after the turn of the century.”
Choctaw Chief Gary Batton added, “For me, it’s about empowerment of our people.”