Colville Tribe upholds plans to spend $193 million

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 Colville Business Council announced Monday.

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. The government announced in April that it had agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle some of those cases, including $193 million to the Colville.

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.

The tribe distributed 20 percent of the settlement to its members — about $4,000 per member — and had planned to spend the remaining 80 percent to restore resources damaged by mismanagement.

Some tribal members then called for a referendum vote seeking to distribute an additional 30 percent, or a total of half of the money. That non-binding referendum passed by a margin of 10 to 1, and the council agreed to the additional 30 percent distribution, or more than $6,000 per member.

Some tribal members did not receive the second payment, or only received part of it, if they owed money to tribal programs, such as child support or tribal credit.

The withheld payments felt like retaliation for asking for more of the settlement money to be distributed, said Yvonne Swan, a tribal elder who presented the council with a petition seeking the rest of the settlement.

She said many tribal members believe the entire amount should be distributed because they are the ones who suffered from the mismanagement of resources. But mostly, Swan said, tribal members want the money to be distributed because of the severe poverty they are facing.

“Our people are hurting,” Swan told The Wenatchee World. “I really wish they would rethink this.”

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital accepting adolescent patients

The facility is the first mental heallth unit in the county to offer in-patient services for children.

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on U.S. 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Teen murder suspect captured — then escapes and is recaptured

The 16-year-old is one of at least three young suspects in the shooting death of an Everett woman.

Most Read