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Northern tribes to benefit from $1B settlement

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The U.S. government has reached a $1 billion settlement with 41 Indian tribes across the nation, including several in northern Minnesota, over longstanding land and trust claims.

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U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the settlement Wednesday afternoon following 22 months of negotiations.

These settlements resolve claims dating back more than 100 years and will "bring to an end protracted litigation that has burdened both the plaintiffs and the United States," federal officials said in a statement.

In the Northland, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Leech Lake, Boise Forte, Bad River and Lac Du Flambeau bands will share in the money, although it wasn't exactly clear how much each would receive.

"These settlements fairly and honorably resolve historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands, and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States," Holder said in the statement. "Our commitment to tribes is the cornerstone of the Department of Justice's policies and initiatives in Indian Country, and these settlements will enable the tribal community to pursue the goals and objectives they deem to be appropriate while marking another step in our shared future built upon mutual respect and strong bonds of trust between tribal governments and the United States."

The Department of the Interior manages nearly 56 million acres of trust lands for federally recognized tribes and more than 100,000 leases for homes, logging, grazing, gas and oil and other activities. The agency also oversees 2,500 tribal trust accounts for more than 250 tribes.

The money will come from the congressionally appropriated Judgment Fund, which is used to pay settlements or final judgments against the government.

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