A federal judge has ordered a mediator to

help with settlement talks involving a lawsuit over the handling of trust accounts for American Indians.

The lawsuit is seeking changes to the way the Interior Department handles more than 300-thousand individual Indian accounts worth more than 500 (m) million dollars.

The federal government and Indian officials agree the accounts have been mishandled for decades.

Today in Washington, a federal judge appointed a George Washington University law professor to oversee the settlement


Both sides have been told to report on their progress November first.

The judge's order requires that the talks be kept confidential.