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National Briefing / Washington, D.c.

U.S. loses ruling on tribe royalties

July 25, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Interior Department must account for century-old land royalties owed to American Indians, reversing a lower court's ruling that the task is impossible.

A 2008 decision by U.S. District Judge James Robertson said Interior had unreasonably delayed an accounting but added that the complicated task was ultimately impossible. He later ruled the Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million, a fraction of the $47 billion they have said they are owed.

The appeals court said that the lower court erred in freeing the government from the accounting burden.

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