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Northwest Tribes Will Share In Billion-Dollar Settlement

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Puyallup Tribal Administration
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Puyallup Tribe Elder Center. The tribe is slated to receive $2,117,064 as part of a nationwide settlement with tribes.

Indian tribes in the Northwest will be getting an infusion of cash. It’s part of a nearly $1 billion settlement the federal government recently reached with tribes across the nation. The settlement with the tribes is restitution for decades of underpayment by the federal government for tribal administration of contracts for such things as health care and social services. In all, tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho will receive more than $204 million. 'No one is getting rich off this'

The Quinault Tribal Nation, on the Washington coast, will receive the largest payout in the Northwest, a payment of $22,810,544.  In a news release, Quinault Council Treasurer Larry Ralston cautioned that “no one is getting rich off this.”

Some said the funds should be used to “strengthen our tribe.”

“There are a number of big-ticket expenses that have to take priority, such as the relocation of our village,” Ralston said.

Tribes say settlement is a 'moral victory'

W. Ron Allen is the Chairman and CEO of the Jamestown S’klallam tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. His tribe’s share of the payout is $4,354,825.

“When you get a settlement like this, it’s kind of like a little shot in the arm. It gives an opportunity to tackle some things that you want to get done and just never had the resources [to do],” Allen said.

In Jamestown S’klallam’s case, Allen says the money will likely be spent on a new law enforcement building, a bigger area for parking, and for building up a rainy day fund.

Allen says he opposes using the money for per-capita payments or cutting every tribal member a check because, he says, it's "too short term."

More important than the money, Allen says, is the "moral victory." Allen, who has worked on this issue for most of his 30-year career, says the settlement is an indication that the federal government acknowledges it has been ignoring its obligation to the tribes for decades.

How much money goes to Northwest tribes

Here is a list of the settlements for tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho:

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Source: www.rncsettlement.com

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.