The U.S. government has settled 17 lawsuits claiming it mismanaged tribal assets and underpaid tribal nations for land. The total settlement is for $492 million.
According to a joint press release by the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior, the settlement was part of a push by President Obama to resolve several of the numerous century old lawsuits by tribal nations against the U.S. government before leaving the Oval Office.
Among the tribes to receive settlement funds is the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma that will receive over $8 million.
Like many other tribal nations, the Muscogee Creek Nation has suffered at the hands of the U.S. government since the tribe was forced to relocate in the 1830s. Between the Curtis Act that dismantled tribal governments and the Dawes Allotment Act that parceled tribal lands to individuals, the Muscogee Creek Nation was stripped of their sovereignty, identity and livelihood.
However, Muscogee Creek Nation continued to fight and was finally able to regain federal recognition in 1970. Today, the Muscogee Creek Nation is successful and boasts a population of 70,000 citizens.
Not the First Time
This isn’t the first time that Muscogee Creek Nation has received a settlement from the U.S. government. In 2015, Muscogee Creek Nation was party to a suit against the U.S. government claiming that they failed to adequately supply funds for federal programs. The Nation received 0.47% of the payout of $940 million.
Additionally, the Nation received three other settlements related to the underfunding and lack of federal system reforms. While there is satisfaction with the recent success of the Muscogee Creek Nation and other tribal petitioners, there is dissatisfaction that it has taken centuries of neglect and abuse to finally have justice.
Hope for the Future
News of this settlement comes as Standing Rock Sioux are receiving increasing media coverage from protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their ancestral lands and primary water source. The protesters are claiming that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not follow the appropriate procedure and consult with the tribal authorities as required by law. Many other tribes are protesting with the Sioux; this includes several citizens of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
With the recent increase in media attention on Native American legal issues, and President Obama’s race to settle the outstanding tribal lawsuits, there is hope that Native American tribes will begin to receive the rights and resources to which they are entitled.
Here at Rick Dane Moore & Associates Law Firm, we take Native American legal issues very seriously. If you or a loved one is located in Oklahoma and are a victim of exploitation of your land then contact the Native American law experts at Rick Dane Moore & Associates Law Firm, P.L.L.C. at (405) 366-0373.