BY MARY HUDETZ
The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A judge has approved a nearly $1 billion settlement between the Interior Department and Native American tribes over a decades-old claim that the government failed to adequately compensate tribes while they managed education, law enforcement and other federal services.
U.S. District Court Judge James Parker in Albuquerque gave the agreement final approval Tuesday — about five months after federal officials and tribal leaders announced they had reached a deal to settle the case for $940 million.
The lawsuit accused the Interior Department of not paying tribes millions of dollars in federal contract costs to oversee federal Bureau of Indian Affairs programs and services dating back as far as the 1970s.
Nearly 700 tribes and tribal agencies are expected to claim compensation from the agreement, with payments ranging from $8,000 to as much as $58 million.