Native Americans get government settlement checks years later

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ANADARKO - Hundreds of Native Americans in Anadarko cashed checks from the federal government at a convenience store Thursday, as part of a multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuit involving decades of unpaid land royalties.

The long lines at Step-N-Fetchum grocery began at 8 a.m.

There was no special sale going on.

They were giving away money - Uncle Sam's money.

"We've been waiting for quite a while for that," one recipient said, "and we do deserve it, you know."

Native Americans from several tribes just received a check - ranging from $900 to $2,000.

"Because they were cheated out of their land," another woman said.

It's all part of a $3.4 billion dollar settlement - payback for the government not paying their ancestors royalties to use their land for over a century.

That land was used for oil production, farming, and other lucrative purposes.

ElouiseCobell, a Blackfeet tribe member from Montana, sued the government 18 years ago and eventually won the class action lawsuit.

"So it does help, but it's a pathetic token," Pam Eagleshield said.

Two years ago, Native Americans were told they would receive the money in 2013, but the Interior Department said as many as 500,000 recipients had to be identified and notified.

Thousands are finally getting their piece of the pie.

But does it right a wrong?

"It's a step," one recipient said.  "That's all I can say.  It's a step forward for us and for them."

Visit the Indian Trust Settlement website for more information.

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