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U.S. House agrees on tribal settlement funds

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Judgment Fund Distribution Act on Monday, now leaving it up to the Senate to pass the legislation.

Minnesota Democrat Reps. Collin Peterson and Chip Cravaack introduced HR 1272 to release more than $28 million to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe for a settlement - agreed to 13 years ago - to compensate descendants of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota for the improper valuation of timber and the taking of land under the Nelson Act of 1889.

The Indian Judgment Fund Act of 1983 requires Congress to pass legislation detailing how the settlement should be distributed among the six Bands that make up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

"The sooner we resolve this issue the sooner these funds can be released. There is a great need on these Reservations for things like schools, health care facilities and infrastructure improvements," Peterson, who represents Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, said in a joint news release. "In a perfect world I would have liked to see all six Bands be in unanimous agreement on how these funds should be distributed, but we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good."

Cravaack, who represents the state's 8th Congressional District, represents five of the six Minnesota Chippewa tribes.

"Their representatives have all made it very clear to me that it is more than past-time to bring resolution to this long-standing issue. I agree," Cravaack said in the release.

The U.S. Senate must pass the legislation before it is sent to President Obama for his signature.