Minnesota Chippewa tribes to receive settlement

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson and Chip Cravaack announced that their legislation allowing Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Bands to receive funds from a 1999 settlement has been signed into law today. The legislation was needed to resolve the situation because the Interior Department did not distribute the trust funds within one year of the judgment. Senators Klobuchar and Franken introduced the legislation in the Senate and Representatives Peterson and Cravaack introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives.

“When the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe agreed to this settlement, they expected to receive the funds in a timely manner,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation, that is now the law of the land, will ensure they finally receive the settlement they deserve.”

“Today marks the end of a long struggle by Minnesota’s Chippewa Tribe to get the money they’re owed by the federal government,” said Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “I’m pleased that the Minnesota congressional delegation was able to work together to get this critical bill passed, and I’m pleased that President Obama has signed it into law so quickly.”

“Today’s action marks the end of thirteen years of efforts to see the settlement funds distributed and put to work for these communities. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe can now use this settlement to make critical school, health care facility and infrastructure improvements,” Peterson said. “I’m proud of the bipartisan effort to pass this important legislation and get it signed into law.”

“After over 100 years since the damages occurred and 13 years after the legal settlement was completed, it is great to see legislation releasing these funds signed into law,” said Rep. Cravaack. “It has been a pleasure to work with members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Minnesota congressional delegation to bring resolution to this long-standing issue.”

In June of 1999, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe agreed to a $20 million settlement with the U.S. government. The funds were transferred to the Department of Interior and deposited into a trust fund account established for the tribe.

Because the Interior Department failed to distribute the funds in the amount of time allowed, Congress must act to authorize the use or distribution of funds. The members’ legislation, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Judgment Fund Distribution Act, commonly known as the “Nelson Act Settlement,” resolves this situation by providing the necessary congressional authorization.

Senator Franken authored the bill in the Senate and Representative Peterson authored the bill in the House.