More waiting for Indian plaintiffs in $3.4B deal

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HELENA, Mont. -- Native Americans who sued the federal government over lost royalties have been waiting nearly 15 years for the $3.4 billion settlement Congress passed last month. Now they'll have to wait some more.

The plaintiffs expect it will be at least next August before Indian trust landowners see a dime, and six months after that before the last claims are settled with trust account holders....

The dispute began over property owned by the Indians and held in trust by the government. The Department of Interior leases that land to others for farming or resource development, and is supposed to pay the Indians the money generated by the land into Individual Indian Money trust accounts, or IIMs.

Those IIMs were created in 1887 by lawmakers who believed at the time that Indians could not handle their own financial affairs....

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