A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a settlement of a century-old land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi tribes.

U.S. District Judge Earl Carroll ruled Jan. 26 that he did not have jurisdiction to decide whether the accommodation agreement was illegal because the case involved two sovereign tribes and was ratified by Congress.The settlement was signed into federal law by President Clinton in 1996. It allowed Navajos in the disputed area to sign 75-year leases with the Hopi tribe.

Eight Navajos living on a disputed area of the Hopi reservation filed suit in October claiming the settlement was unfair because it didn't provide for infrastructure improvements and limited Navajos living on the Hopi land "to only subsistence activities."

If the case isn't appealed, Hopi officials said the tribe can ratify the leases with the 316 Navajo families who agreed last year to live under Hopi jurisdiction rather than be relocated.

For the 28 families who refuse to sign leases and refuse to move, Hopi officials said the deadline for those families to be off Hopi partitioned land is Feb. 1, 2000.