Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements

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In Congress Wednesday, the group in charge of doling out Cobell settlement claims says it's waiting on setting exact amounts and a judge's okay before making the rest of the payments.

The $3.4 billion settlement comes from a 1996 class action lawsuit against the government after Montana tribes found money collected for Indian trust accounts were mishandled.

Part of that settlement is a Land Buy Back Program, where tribal land owners can sell property, giving it to the tribe.

Tribal members own millions of acres, but there are sometimes hundreds of co-owners for one tract of land, leaving it fractioned and hard to use.

Consolidating the land through the Buy Back Program has been slow going.

"There are some people who have been waiting and waiting and have passed away without ever receiving this money, but the carrot is out there in front of us," said Leeann Johnson, a member of the Crow tribe.

What looks like inaction frustrates many, including chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Senator Jon Tester.

Twenty months have passed and the Program is slated to be completed in ten years.