President Obama has signed landmark legislation to pay American Indian landowners and black farmers $4.6 billion to address claims of government mistreatment over many decades.

At a signing ceremony at the White House the president declared, "It's finally time to make things right."

Obama promised during his campaign to work toward resolving disputes over the government's past discrimination against minorities. The measure he signed Wednesday settles a pair of long-standing class-action lawsuits.

Some Republicans have likened the black farmers program to "modern-day reparations" for African-Americans and argue that the claims process is rife with fraud. Administration officials say the bill includes safeguards to prevent fraud.