indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Sovereignty and E-Commerce:  Innovating and Reshaping the  Borders of Indian Country - Arizona State University Third Annual Tribal Government E-Commerce CLE Conference
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Supreme Court refuses Bush appeal of trust case
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected another attempt by the Bush administration to limit the federal government's trust responsibilities.

Without comment, the justices denied an appeal involving two Wyoming tribes whose trust assets have been mismanaged by the Interior Department. The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe have won key rulings in a long-running case over oil, gas, sand and gravel resources on the Wind River Reservation.

The Bush administration sought to overturn those rulings, claiming that they would pave the way for billions of dollars in lawsuits by tribal governments and individual Indians. "Both the number and the potential dollar value of possible breach-of-trust claims against the United States are enormous," Department of Justice attorneys wrote in a court brief.

Three years ago, the administration made a similar argument in two tribal trust cases that went before the high court. The justices ruled for one tribe and went against another but, in both instances, they refused to limit the federal government's fiduciary obligations to Indian beneficiaries.

In the years following, tribes and individual Indians have won a series of rulings in the federal courts. In addition to the Wyoming tribes, the Osage Nation from Oklahoma and the Cobell plaintiffs have relied on the Supreme Court precedents to press an accounting of billions of dollars in trust funds.

The administration's appeal threatened these victories because it challenged a Congressional rider that gives Indian beneficiaries more time to file lawsuits. The provision, first placed in the Interior Department's appropriations bill in 1990, lifts the standard six-year statute of limitations for trust accounting cases.

The rider has been included in every appropriations bill since and it was the subject of a separate measure sponsored by former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado). "It is about avoiding litigation which I think is in everyone's interest," Campbell said at a February 2002 hearing. The bill was signed into law by President Bush a month later.

Key members of Congress have continued to press the government and Indian Country to resolve trust management issues. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he will give everyone "one good shot" this session to work out a potential solution.

The National Congress of American Indians and the Inter-Tribal Trust Monitoring Association have since started a workgroup to draft legislation to present to Congress. The Native American Rights Fund, on behalf of the Cobell plaintiffs, is involved in the talks.

The effort proceeds as the White House and the Interior Department have refused to yield on a key issue in the debate -- how far in history an accounting of trust funds should go. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, government attorneys sought a ruling to endorse their limited view of the costly project.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has asked for a substantial increase in resources to fight tribal trust lawsuits. In testimony to Congress in March, he requested $7.4 million and 18 positions, a figure that doesn't include the amount being used to battle the Cobell case.

"The United States' potential exposure in these cases is more than $200 billion," Gonzales said. "Adequate resources are necessary to limit exposure and establish proper precedent for the United States."

In the Wind River case, the tribes have settled claims related to oil and gas mismanagement for $12 million and claims related to sand and gravel mismanagement for $2 million. Other parts of the case are still pending.

The tribes also filed an appeal to the Supreme Court that was rejected yesterday. They wanted a ruling to determine whether they are entitled to the best price for their sand and gravel assets. The lower court ruled they had no claim on this point.

DOJ Briefs:
DOJ Petition | DOJ Appendix | Reply | Response

Tribal Briefs:
Tribal Petition | Response

Docket Sheets:
US v. Shoshone Indian Tribe | Eastern Shoshone Tribe v. US

Other Documents:
Alberto Gonzales Testimony (March 1, 2005)

Lower Court Decision:
SHOSHONE INDIAN TRIBE OF THE WIND RIVER RESERVATION v. US (April 7, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Eastern Shoshone Tribe - http://www.easternshoshone.net
Northern Arapaho Tribe - http://www.northernarapaho.com
NCAI-NARF Supreme Court Project - http://doc.narf.org/sc/index.html

Related Stories:
Supreme Court to weigh appeal of trust lawsuit (04/07)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Wind River Tribes settle some trust claims for $12M (06/11)
Wyoming tribes win appeal of breach of trust lawsuit (04/08)
Appeals court revives Wind River royalty fraud case (4/7)
Judge advances suit over royalty mismanagement (10/03)
Judge upholds ongoing trust relationship (04/29)
Navajo Nation fallout considered (3/7)
Navajo Nation's Peabody lawsuit to continue (3/7)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Supreme Court upholds common law trust claim (3/5)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)
Supreme Court offers split victory on trust (3/5)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)

Copyright © 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior nominee contradicts Trump on 'race' and tribal programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
Steven Newcomb: The racist and toxic roots of federal Indian policy (5/19)
Indian Country braces for worst with Trump's planned budget cuts (5/18)
Bipartisan task force announced to look into Indian Health Service (5/18)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (5/18)
Albert Bender: Police slaughter of Native people rages unabated (5/18)
Steve Russell: There's a downside to impeaching Donald Trump (5/18)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant goes on trial (5/18)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays money to address federal audit (5/18)
House passes bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (5/18)
Kalispel Tribe using bottled water at casino after contamination (5/18)
Leech Lake Band wins approval to build new casino at new site (5/18)
Tohono O'odham Nation secures victory in long-running dispute (5/17)
Dakota Access seeks to intervene in Oglala Sioux Tribe's lawsuit (5/17)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves 3 bills at meeting (5/17)
Indian Health Service and 'high risk' tribal programs on agenda (5/17)
Bureau of Indian Affairs designates service area for Tejon Tribe (5/17)
Ruth Hopkins: Taxpayers footing $15M bill for DAPL private army (5/17)
Matthew Fletcher: Expect litigation after Supreme Court decision (5/17)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.