Native American News

Jul 31, 2012 8:09 PM by Irina Cates - KPAX News

Settlement money at heart of CSKT disagreement

PABLO- The Confederate Salish and Kootenai tribal council is giving its members a little more than half of the money allotted to them in a recent settlement with the U.S. Government, but some of the members want the tribe to give them all of the money.

In Nez Perce v. Salazar, 41 tribes reached a settlement with the U.S. government totaling more than $1 billion. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were allotted $150 million of that money to disperse among 7,850 members. The tribal council decided to give each of the enrolled members $10,000, just over half of the money allotted per member.

Tribal communications director Rob McDonald said the tribes wanted to balance between individual's economic needs and "long-term economic planning for the viability of the government."

But some tribal members say they want the full $19,000.

"These people need it. They don't have no housing. I know a lady who has no water and she's living in her mobile home. I see people not even have underground electricity," says Carlita Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the People's Voice group.

A People's Voice group member, Ramona Cajune, agreed. "This payment is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some poor families who have several children to invest in a home," she said.

McDonald said the tribal government doesn't know what it plans to do with the $70,000 left over after giving its members $10,000 each.

"They're still considering many options. Some ideas came forward at the council meetings-an emphasis on culture, language programs, the elders-providing for them, and some long-term economic planning," McDonald said.

McDonald also says the tribal council's decision to payout the $10,000 to each is a done deal, but he also says the council could reverse its decision if that's the course it wanted to take.

The checks will go out to the members on September 12.

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