Native Americans in the Southwest have received more than $96 million as a result of the nation’s largest class action lawsuit against the federal government, and an additional $312 million is expected to be sent out this fall.
The money comes from a $3.4 billion settlement regarding the mismanagement of money owed to Native Americans during the last 126 years.
Since 1887, the federal government has managed land owned by Native Americans, as well as the income those lands generated. For instance, if a Native person leased land to a company or individual, the money owed to that person went to an account managed by the government. The class action lawsuit Cobell vs. Salazar, established that the money basically disappeared.
There’s no clear sense of how much money was lost, however, the final amount the government had to pay was set at $3.4 billion.
Currently, about $96 million has been sent to Native Americans in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas.
Another round of checks are expected to go out this fall, and will be substantially more. For example, Arizona tribal members should see another $110 million in reimbursements by the end of the year.