Colville council won't give all of settlement money to members
The Colville Tribes are giving half of a $193 million settlement to members and holding on to the rest to fund senior centers, health clinics, resource restoration, language development and other programs,
WENATCHEE — The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation will stick with a plan to spend half of a $193 million settlement on tribal programs, rather than distribute it to tribal members to spend as they please.
The statement from the council came after it received a petition, signed by one-third of eligible tribal voters, asking them to distribute the rest of the settlement funds to tribal members. Half of the funds were distributed to members in two payments earlier this year.
The plan unanimously adopted by the council in October uses the remaining settlement money to fund senior centers, health clinics, resource restoration, language development and other programs, tribal chairman John Sirois said in a statement.
"We authorized the initial distribution because we wanted to provide tribal members with much needed capital," he said. But he added that the council adopted the plan "because we wanted to ensure future generations, and the community as a whole, would benefit from the settlement money."
The Colvilles were among 114 tribes that filed suit against the federal government to reclaim money lost in mismanaged accounts and from royalties for oil, gas, grazing and timber rights on tribal lands.
Twelve Indian bands comprise the Colville tribes, whose reservation covers 1.4 million acres of north-central Washington's Okanogan Highlands. The Colvilles have about 9,500 members, though as many as half have moved away from the reservation to find work or seek opportunities elsewhere.