TOPPENISH, Yakima County — More than 2,700 Yakama tribal members have signed a petition calling for the ouster of the entire 14-member Tribal Council, claiming they’ve been kept in the dark over what they say is a multimillion-dollar settlement between the tribe and the federal government.
Known as the Salazar settlement, the federal government has agreed to give 41 tribes across the country $1 billion to settle a series of lawsuits accusing the federal government of mismanaging tribal resources such as timber, minerals and other assets held in federal trust.
Tribes are receiving anywhere from thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the money is causing an uproar over how the settlement money should be distributed.
Tribal members filed into the tribe’s General Council meeting Wednesday, where they vote on major decisions and elect leaders. Only Yakamas are allowed into the meeting, and its outcome wasn’t available late Thursday.
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According to the petition signed by 2,729 Yakamas, the Tribal Council is not informing members of settlement negotiations.
Tribal leaders said in a statement to members that the negotiations are confidential between tribal leaders and the feds.