indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes discuss water concerns at conference (8/1)
Puyallup fashion designer survives 2nd week on Project Runway (8/1)
Report shows dip in Indian Country detention center population (8/1)
House committee passes bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino (8/1)
George Rivera: Pojoaque Pueblo contributes to state with casino (8/1)
Ted Nugent: Media to blame for tribes canceling casino concerts (8/1)
Chippewa Cree Tribe takes Original American Foundation money (8/1)
Cayuga Nation welcomes 2nd Circuit decision in foreclosure suit (8/1)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee supports bills for Nevada tribes (8/1)
Support grows for trail to recognize forced march of Ponca Tribe (8/1)
Leadership flap in Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes appears settled (8/1)
Canada posts reports of salaries earned by First Nations leaders (8/1)
Montana to open satellite voting office on Blackfeet Reservation (8/1)
BIA officer involved in fatal shooting on Wind River Reservation (8/1)
Editorial: BIA fails to explain need for federal recognition reform (8/1)
Rep. Young apologizes for grabbing arm of Congressional staffer (8/1)
Chumash Tribe dispels drought concerns amid casino expansion (8/1)
Lawmakers ask DOJ to back bill to reverse online gaming opinion (8/1)
Native Sun News: Lawmakers seek distribution of Cobell checks (7/31)
2nd Circuit protects Cayuga Nation from foreclosure proceeding (7/31)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes seven bills at meeting (7/31)
David Wilkins: Finding some common ground on disenrollments (7/31)
Erik Stegman: Racist mascots continue to hurt our Native youth (7/31)
Tribes participate in 400-mile journey from Colorado to Arizona (7/31)
Sen. Tester questions void in leadership at IHS regional offices (7/31)
Matika Wilbur continues photo trip throughout Indian Country (7/31)
Proposed bill targets 'halfbreed' and 'breed' names in Montana (7/31)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe records high levels of bacteria in river (7/31)
KUOW: Tightening the screws on tribal payday loan operations (7/31)
Notah Begay to be inducted into Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame (7/31)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe fires police chief following investigation (7/31)
Opinion: Native Americans shackled in poverty by federal policy (7/31)
Fact Checker: Three Pinocchios for Washington team's new site (7/31)
Column: Revisiting Johnny Cash's classic Indian rights recording (7/31)
Column: Sen. McCain breaks promise on Tohono O'odham casino (7/31)
Survey shows support for smoke-free tribal casinos in Wisconsin (7/31)
Prairie Island Tribe arrests woman for possessing meth at casino (7/31)
Chumash Tribe hosts public meeting on $160M casino expansion (7/31)
Crews stop spread of fires that came near Barona Band's casino (7/31)
Native Sun News: Website tracks missing and murdered women (7/30)
Native Sun News: AmeriCorps expands efforts in Indian Country (7/30)
House Natural Resources Committee markup on four tribal bills (7/30)
Mark Begich: A permanent fix for tribal contract support costs (7/30)
Paul Moorehead: Let's get back to promoting self-government (7/30)
Tanya Lee: Violence against Native women a national disgrace (7/30)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin named one of 50 Most Beautiful on Hill (7/30)
Tribes criticize veto provisions in BIA federal recognition rule (7/30)
Great Plains tribes hold conference to safeguard water rights (7/30)
Yurok Tribe wraps up marijuana raids with nearly 13K plants (7/30)
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.