Just three weeks after disbursing more than $4,000 to each of its members, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation announced today that it will disburse another $58 million from its $193 million settlement with the federal government stemming from mismanagement of tribal timber- and rangelands.
Tribal leaders originally said it would disburse 20 percent from the trust, which was approved in May as part of a $1 billion settlement of the longstanding legal battle between the federal government and 41 Native American tribes over mismanagement of tribal lands by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
But the tribal members initially called for more of the money to be disbursed.
On Friday, the members voted 3,495 to 303 to approve a referendum on another 30 percent disbursement to be paid in October. As part of the decision, each tribal member will receive $6,100 in addition to the $4,080 each received Aug. 3.
“The membership has spoken decisively on this matter, and we applaud their voice on the issue,” said John Sirois, the chairman of the Colville Business Council.
Sirois said tribal leaders originally had planned to use 80 percent of the $193 million to restore timberlands, rangelands and natural resources.
“But one of the things we heard loud and clear is that we are in pretty rough economic times … on and off the reservation,” Sirois said. “The money is needed for a lot of immediate needs. We can totally understand the need that is out there.”
Tribal leaders already have plans for the remaining half of the settlement trust, but Sirois said some of those plans still need to be vetted.
“We are not ready to disclose that yet,” he said. “We have pretty good, well-thought-out … restoration efforts and plans to share with everyone, especially with membership, soon.”