A tribal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Colville Business Council regarding how a $193 million settlement with the federal government will be spent.
Yvonne L. Swan, a member of the Confederated Colville Tribes, and a group called “Colville Members for Justice” sought to have all of the settlement distributed to tribal members through per-capita payments.
The tribal council instead chose to distribute half of the settlement to the tribe’s 9,500 members, and put the remaining money in economic development and cultural preservation programs. The plan allowed for a tribal language endowment fund, land purchases, forest restoration, community development and health and wellness programs, among other things.
The $193 million was among the largest of 70 such settlements that the U.S. government made with tribes in recent years. The 2012 settlement ended a lawsuit over decades of federal mismanagement of receipts from logging sales, agricultural leases and mining activity on the Colville Tribes’ lands.
The Colville Tribal Court dismissed Swan’s suit in October 2013. The recent ruling by the Court of Appeals affirms that decision.
“It’s unfortunate that our tribes have been divided on this issue, but we (the council) are excited about the future,” Jim Boyd, the council chairman, said Tuesday in a statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to do what we feel is a balanced best-effort to offer success and wealth to our tribal membership and our future generations.”