U.S. Senate approves Cobell settlement and Indian water settlement

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Cobell v. Salazar class-action lawsuit about the mismanagement of Indian trust lands to settle a decades-old lawsuit involving more than 300,000 American Indians’ trust accounts.

The parties to the lawsuit agreed in December 2009 to settle the case, but lawmakers have yet to fund the settlement, which includes funding to resolve historical accounting and damage claims, establish a Trust Land Consolidation Fund and support Indian Scholarships.

Montana Blackfeet Tribal citizen Elouise Cobell brought the suit against the federal government.

The legislation also ratifies the Crow-Montana Water Rights Compact, which outlines the tribe’s authority over distributing, allocating, and leasing water, and funds the development of water resources for irrigation, power, and other uses.

The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives, where it must also be passed to become law.

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