The government must hold up settling civil claims over the Exxon Valdez oil spill until a federal judge considers a challenge by five native Alaskan villages.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin issued a temporary restraining order Thursday, saying he wanted to make sure any settlement protects the native Alaskans' rights.The government and Exxon apparently are close to settlement on civil claims over the massive March 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound. Sporkin's order directs the federal and Alaska state governments not to sign any agreement before Monday, when he plans a hearing on the villages' lawsuit.