A federal judge approved the creation of what is expected to become the largest U.S. philanthropy serving Native American farmers and ranchers, redistributing $380 million left unclaimed in a landmark 2010 civil rights settlement in which the U.S. government agreed to pay for years of official discrimination. Most of the $680 million in the 2010 settlement went unspent after far fewer people than expected brought successful claims. Instead of the 10,000 anticipated, only about 3,600 applicants were paid.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District approved an agreement over how to handle the remaining funds. Under the new deal, those Native American farmers and ranchers will receive $21,275 in cash and tax payments on their behalf — about $77 million in all — atop the $50,000 apiece most received initially. An additional $38 million will go to nonprofit groups chosen by lawyers who represented those in the class action, and the remaining $265 million will endow a Native American-led trust that will distribute money at its discretion to nonprofit groups over 20 years.