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$3.4B Indian land royalty settlement upheld

HELENA, Mont. — A panel of appellate judges has upheld a $3.4 billion settlement between the U.S. government and hundreds of thousands of Native American plaintiffs whose land trust royalties the Department of Interior mismanaged.

The three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a challenge of the settlement Tuesday. The judges said the deal approved by Congress in 2010 is fair and the best that can be hoped for without years of additional litigation.

Kimberly Craven of Boulder, Colo., had objected that the settlement did not include an accounting for how much money was lost and said some beneficiaries would be overcompensated.

The settlement is the result of a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Blackfeet tribal member Elouise Cobell, who died of cancer in October.