An example of clear-cutting on former trust lands in the Choctaw Nation. [Photo Provided by Ackerman McQueen]
—The Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have settled a decade-old federal lawsuit regarding former tribal trust land, as announced by Chief Gary Batton. Terms of the early July settlement have not been released, pending official approval from both tribal governments.
A partial settlement was reached in May on a portion of the suit. The settlement was approved by Choctaw Nation Tribal Council at its May meeting, but details were not available due to a non-disclosure clause.
At issue was an accounting of the tribal trust lands taken by the U.S. gov- ernment after Choctaw and Chickasaw governments were dissolved more than a century ago. The Nations filed suit against the U.S. government in 2005, seeking that long overdue accounting and an equitable restoration of the trust.
“I’m very excited that the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, Gov. Bill Anoa-tubby, along with myself, and the U.S. government have agreed to a settlement of the timber trust account case,” said Chief Gary Batton. “This settlement will begin the healing process for many of our tribal members. This is the first time that the federal government and tribal Nations have worked on a settlement of some of these dark pages of history.”
Batton said the settlement funds, whose sum remains undisclosed at this time, will be used to improve the lives of Choctaw and Chickasaw tribal members through economic development and social service programs. Many of these programs are new innovations aimed at improving the lives of low-income tribal