Elouise Cobell, Black Foot Indian Tribe member and lead plaintiff in tribal lawsuit against government (file photo)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Attorneys representing hundreds of thousands of American Indians say they should start seeing the first payments of a $3.4 billion settlement with the U.S. government by year's end.
The settlement between Native Americans across the nation and the government over more than a century's worth of squandered and mismanaged land trust royalties became final on Friday.
The lawsuit was started by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., in 1996 after the Blackfeet woman saw no accounting of the money held in trust by the government.
Cobell died last year of cancer.
Plaintiffs' attorneys said Monday approximately 350,000 beneficiaries should start receiving $1,000 checks as the first part of the settlement goes forward.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the settlement marks a step forward in reconciliation.