On December 8, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (Pub.L.111-291), approving an historic $3.4 billion Cobell vs. Salazar settlement. The Act resolves the 14-year class action lawsuit against the United States for the federal government’s mismanagement of individual Indian money accounts. The settlement includes $1.24 billion in compensation for historical accounting claims to individual Indian account holders, and $1.9 billion for the voluntary buyback and consolidation of fractionated Indian lands. In addition, the settlement creates a $60 million federal Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund.
The law also ends decades of negotiations between seven American Indian tribes and the federal government over four water rights settlements totaling more than $1 billion. The settlements will provide permanent water supplies and support economic development opportunities for the Pueblos of Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque, San Ildefonso, and Taos in New Mexico; the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona; and the Crow Tribe in Montana.