House OKs bill to release state from role in royalties collection

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The House passed a bill Wednesday allowing the state to end its oversight of the Navajo Trust Fund on July 1.

The Navajo Trust Fund was created by Congress in 1933 to hold 37 1/2 percent of the royalties from drilling in the Aneth oil fields for the benefit of tribal members living in Utah's San Juan County. The rest of the royalty money, which began coming into the fund in the late 1950s, goes to Navajo Nation headquarters in Window Rock, Ariz.

Several lawsuits have been filed since the 1950s, with members of the Navajo Nation alleging the state mishandled funds, costing the Navajos millions.

Under the bill, the federal court would act as trustee until Congress appoints another trustee or devises a better process. The bill now goes to the Senate.

- Sheena McFarland