Yuroks to receive disputed $90
John Driscoll/The Times-Standard 3/02/2007
Interior Department goes against Hoopa
arguments over settlement act
A massive fund in dispute for two decades will
likely be released entirely to the Yurok Tribe,
possibly ending the Hoopa Valley Tribe's hope that
the $90 million might be split.
The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday decided
that the money it held in trust under the
Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act belongs with the Yuroks.
The money comes from timber sales on the Hoopa
Reservation, which was split in 1988.
The Yuroks have long held that it should be
compensated because its share of the reservation,
a narrow swath of mostly privately owned land on
either side of the Klamath River below Weitchpec,
doesn't give them access to rich timber like that
on the Hoopa Reservation.
”With this issue finally resolved, Yurok and Hoopa
can put our differences aside,” said Yurok
Chairwoman Maria Tripp in a statement. “I am
excited at the opportunity we have to work
together, heal old wounds, and build a prosperous
and healthy community in a spirit of mutual
Hoopa Chairman Clifford Lyle Marshall was
traveling Thursday and was unable to be reached
In a letter to the tribes from Ross Swimmer,
Special Trustee for American Indians, the
department writes that the Yurok Tribe can still
submit an unconditional waiver of claims against
the government. Once the tribe does that, Swimmer
writes, the money will be released to the tribe.
The decision is a turnaround from the Interior
Department's earlier stance that because the Yurok
Tribe sued over the settlement act, it forfeited
its right to the funds. But Interior also held
that the Hoopa Tribe was entitled to no more money
than it had already received years ago -- about
In the Thursday letter, Swimmer writes that there
is no time limit on the Yurok Tribe's being able
to provide a waiver of its claims, unlike the
argument the Hoopa Tribe made that the settlement
act's authority has expired.
”Fundamentally, nothing in the act states that the
Yurok Tribe's choosing to litigate its takings
claim would cause the tribe to forfeit the
benefits under the act,” Swimmer wrote.
Tripp said that the Yurok Tribal Council will
develop a strategy to use the money, and that any
final plan would be voted on by the tribe's
John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or