Navajo Indians Reach Historic Settlement with Federal Government

The United States government has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation a record $554 million to settle longstanding claims by America’s largest Indian tribe that its funds and natural resources were mishandled for decades by the U.S. government. The Indian nation raised many claims including improper execution of land use and water rights by the federal government over the last several decades. Specifically, the settlement derives from litigation charging the government of mismanaging Navajo trust accounts and resources on more than 14 million acres of land held in trust for the Nation and leased for such purposes as farming, energy development, logging and mining.


In exchange for the $554 million payment, the Navajo Nation whichoccupies 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, agrees to refrain fromfurther litigation relating to previous U.S. management of Navajo funds and resources held in trust by the federal government. .Originally it had sought $900 million in damages. But the Navajo Nation has probably recognized that the Obama administration entered in to similar settlements with 41 tribes totaling $1 billion. This history may have served as encouragement that it faced a litigation adversary which was not opposed to pursuing settlement in these types of cases.


For years members of the Navajo nation (which numbers approximately 300,000 members) have asserted that they have been illegally prevented from exercising fair land use and having access to a proper allocation of water resources. The settlement goes a long way toward repairing some of the “wrongs that have been done against the Navajo people,” said Rick Abasta, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation.


It constitutes the largest settlement obtained by a single American Indian tribe against the U.S. and ends a dispute that commenced with the U.S. Claims Court filed in 2006. It will be paid by the federal government in the next 60 to 90 days.


For advice on land use, water rights or farming matters before making any purchase or transaction, contact the attorneys at Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Call the office at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at should you have any questions concerning the use of any land for farming or other purposes.