Class Action Settlement Brings $59 Million to Descendents of the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians

Details of Andrew Kennard

June 18, 2021

WASHINGTON – A $ 59 million settlement

On June 10, the US District Court for the District of Columbia concluded the settlement in the federal court with the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation of Montana, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, the Home Office said. The tribes were represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), according to the website intended for litigation.

“It took them far too long and far too little,” said Gerald Gray, chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The lawsuit has its roots in land that the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians ceded to the US government in unfair contracts in the 19th century.

On October 2, 1863, the Red Lake and Pembina Bands entered approximately 7.5 million acres of land in the Red River region of North Dakota and Minnesota to the federal government from the 1982 report, according to a 1971 report by the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

In 1905, the Pembinas gave the government about 10 million acres west of the Red River area for a price of 10 cents an acre, according to the 1982 report, as part of the so-called “ten cent contract”. The report said 8 million acres of the ceded land “extend from what is now north-central part of North Dakota to the Canadian border.”

In 1964 and 1980, the Pembinas received additional compensation for the land ceded in the 1863 treaty, or more than 8 million acres of the land ceded in the “ten-cent treaty,” according to the lawsuit website and 1982 report. These funds have been entrusted to the Pembina Judgment Fund (PJF).

At the request of tribal leaders, and with the approval of Congress, per capita payments from the Fund of $ 44 to $ 1,400 were made to eligible recipients in 1984, 1988, 1990, and 1994, according to an article published in the 2006 edition the NARF legal review was published.

In 1988, the leaders of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Band of Chippewa Indians were “dismayed by the general lack of money available for distribution” in the per capita distribution, the article said. The tribe then requested an examination from the Home Office of the Inspector General and “today also independent accountants who confirmed to the tribe that ‘you don’t need an accounting firm, you need a law firm'” on this matter.

The Peltier class action lawsuit against Haaland for breach of trust was filed in 1992.

Builder picture 2Studio portrait of the Pembina Chippewa delegation taken in Washington, DC in 1874. Photo from the National Museum of the American Indian. (Photo /

In total, the individual class action lawsuit members will receive a total of $ 40,987,112 and the four tribes will receive a total of $ 8,437,273.60, according to the lawsuit website. Gray said the money for the tribes will be used for economic development and tribal administration. The litigation website estimates that individuals can receive up to $ 1,440, depending on eligibility.

The Home Office noted that this deal builds on deals reached during the Obama administration over tribal mismanagement claims of federal trusts of more than 100 tribes totaling over $ 3.7 billion, which is “the vast majority of the outstanding claims “.

“The Home Office is fully committed to strengthening our government-government relations with the tribes, including resolving longstanding disputes over the proper management of tribal trusts,” said a Home Office spokesman. The ministry will continue to conscientiously fulfill its responsibility to trust nationally recognized tribes and issue guidelines that promote the sovereignty, self-determination and economic independence of the tribes. “

To learn more about the class action lawsuit or to see if you are a member of the settlement class, visit the Pembina Class actions website.

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About the author

Andrew Kennard

Author: Andrew Kennard

Reporting intern

Andrew Kennard is a reporting intern for Native News Online. Kennard graduated from Drake University with a degree in multimedia journalism and worked as a staff writer for the Times-Delphic, the weekly newspaper produced by Drake’s students. This fall, he will be working as the Times-Delphic news editor.

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