An aboriginal group in northwestern British Columbia has won a multi-million dollar settlement from the federal government for the destruction of its fishery 50 years ago.

Lawyer Peter Grant says the $21.5-million settlement came last week just before the case was to go to court on Tuesday.

Grant says the case was launched in 1985 and went through a series of legal twists in the years before the abrupt deal.

The river next to Hagwilget village provided an especially abundant fishery after a slide in the 1820s sent rock into the Bulkley River, making it more difficult for salmon to swim upstream to spawn.

But in 1959, federal government scientists concluded the rock should be removed and blasted out the canyon.

The river was apparently deepened by the blasting, the village's fishery was completely wiped out and Grant says the loss of the fishery completely undermined the culture of the community.

He says he expects other aboriginal groups will be looking at the settlement to see if it's relevant to their cases.