The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 4:33 p.m.

Colville Tribe upholds plans to spend $193 million

WENATCHEE -- The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation will stick with a plan to spend half of a $193 million settlement on tribal programs, rather than distribute it to tribal members to spend as they please, the Colville Business Council announced Monday.
The statement from the council came after it received a petition, signed by one-third of eligible tribal voters, asking them to distribute the rest of the settlement funds to tribal members. Half of the funds were distributed to members in two payments earlier this year.
The plan unanimously adopted by the council in October uses the remaining settlement money to fund senior centers, health clinics, resource restoration, language development and other programs, tribal chairman John Sirois said in a statement.
"We authorized the initial distribution because we wanted to provide tribal members with much needed capital," he said. But he added that the council adopted the plan "because we wanted to ensure future generations, and the community as a whole, would benefit from the settlement money."
The Colvilles were among 114 tribes that filed suit against the federal government to reclaim money lost in mismanaged accounts and from royalties for oil, gas, grazing and timber rights on tribal lands. The government announced in April that it had agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle some of those cases, including $193 million to the Colville.
Twelve Indian bands comprise the Colville tribes, whose reservation covers 1.4 million acres of north-central Washington's Okanogan Highlands. The Colvilles have about 9,500 members, though as many as half have moved away from the reservation to find work or seek opportunities elsewhere.
The tribe distributed 20 percent of the settlement to its members -- about $4,000 per member -- and had planned to spend the remaining 80 percent to restore resources damaged by mismanagement.
Some tribal members then called for a referendum vote seeking to distribute an additional 30 percent, or a total of half of the money. That non-binding referendum passed by a margin of 10 to 1, and the council agreed to the additional 30 percent distribution, or more than $6,000 per member.
Some tribal members did not receive the second payment, or only received part of it, if they owed money to tribal programs, such as child support or tribal credit.
The withheld payments felt like retaliation for asking for more of the settlement money to be distributed, said Yvonne Swan, a tribal elder who presented the council with a petition seeking the rest of the settlement.
She said many tribal members believe the entire amount should be distributed because they are the ones who suffered from the mismanagement of resources. But mostly, Swan said, tribal members want the money to be distributed because of the severe poverty they are facing.
"Our people are hurting," Swan told The Wenatchee World. "I really wish they would rethink this."

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


HeraldNet highlights

To Russia and back
To Russia and back: Learn all about snow goose adventures at festival
No 'green rush'
No 'green rush': It's a tough market for budding marijuana businesses
Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (8 new photos)
For a day or a lifetime
For a day or a lifetime: Bothell is a great place to visit at anytime