The Obama administration will pay the Navajo Nation $554 million in a landmark settlement ending a 50-year dispute over how the U.S. government manages funds and lands on the Navajo reservation, the largest and most populous in the country.
“This landmark resolution ends protracted and burdensome litigation,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement provided to the Washington Post Wednesday. “This demonstrates the Justice Department’s firm commitment to strengthening our partnerships with tribal nations.”
The settlement is the largest ever with one Native American tribe. Under the agreement, the Navajo Nation will dismiss its lawsuit against the federal government. The 14 million-acre reservation that sprawls across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico is leased for farming, housing, businesses, grazing, gas and other mineral extraction.
“The Navajo Nation has worked tirelessly for many years to bring this issue to a close,” Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, said. “After a long, hard-won process, I am pleased that we have finally come to a resolution on this matter to receive fair and just compensation for the Navajo Nation.” The tribe will host town hall meetings across the Navajo Nation to decide on how the funds can be used or invested, Shelly said.