After more than 17 years of efforts by Chairman Berrey and the Nation’s leadership, the tribe was able to obtain a measure of justice for its members for a legacy of federal mismanagement of the Quapaw Reservation lands, as well as accounts and other trust assets managed by the United States.
Under a settlement with the United States finally accepted by the United States Department of Justice in September 2019, the Nation and its members are due to receive almost $200 million through a combination of immediate payments and appropriations to be requested from Congress pursuant to special legislation adopted in December 2012 known as a “congressional reference.”
“For my tribe I am glad we are nearing the end,” John L. Berrey, who has served as Chairman since the litigation began, said at the time. “But I think a lot as well about our ancestors who suffered this mistreatment and who deserved this restitution, and also about the many elders who supported this cause and who we have lost over all the years this has taken.”
Chairman Berrey personally persuaded the leadership of the United States House of Representatives to adopt special legislation in 2012 allowing the Nation to pursue claims on behalf of its members for which the statute of limitations had run. As part of the overall settlement of the Quapaw trust litigation, the Justice Department stipulated to the sum of $137.5 million as damages for the Nation and its members for a history of federal mismanagement of Indian assets. Chairman Berrey has been working with members of Congress to obtain appropriations (probably spread across three or four years) which will permit a distribution to the Nation’s members. As planned, each member living at the time of the settlement would receive a share, and the Nation would receive a portion to provide for the tribe’s future.