News | Legislative & Policy Updates

Navajo Council Approves $554 Million Settlement in U.S. Lawsuit

Navajo Council Approves $554 Million Settlement in U.S. Lawsuit

On May 30, 2014, the Navajo Nation Council approved a $554 million settlement that the tribe reached with the United States for its historical mismanagement of the tribe’s trust fund assets. It is the largest trust mismanagement settlement ever obtained by a single tribe against the U.S.

The settlement is the culmination of years of negotiation between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. after the Navajo Nation sued the U.S. Department of Interior in 2006 for breaching its trust obligations to the tribe in failing to adequately manage, invest and account for tribal trust funds and resources and maximize the related trust income. Claims under the lawsuit dated back to 1946.

Internally, the Navajo Nation established the Historical Trust Asset Mismanagement Litigation Trust Fund, which helped finance the lawsuit. The tribe also established the Trust Management Litigation Taskforce comprised of eight council delegates to guide the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and the tribe’s outside counsel, the BuckleySandler LLP firm and co-counsel the Nordhaus Law Firm, during the litigation. 

The settlement will be executed and payment made to the Navajo Nation once Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and the U.S. Departments of Justice, Interior and Treasury provide a final review and approval of the terms of the agreement.

For more information, please see the May 30, 2014 Navajo Nation Council press release.