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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
First member of Pascua Yaqui Tribe signs to play basketball (4/16)
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Smith passes away at age of 88 (4/16)
Dean Chavers: Indian journalism owes big debt to Tim Giago (4/16)
Nicholet Deschine: KTNN accepts 'hush money' for racial slur (4/16)
Jack Duran: Grindstone Rancheria finally gets a seat at table (4/16)
Dry Creek Rancheria to hold disenrollment hearings this week (4/16)
Hate group plans to protest at Alaska Native Heritage Center (4/16)
Colorado House passes bill to expand Indian tuition program (4/16)
Ute Tribe signs five-year agreement with University of Utah (4/16)
Mississippi Choctaws on track to open health facility in 2015 (4/16)
Judges from Turtle Mountain Band threatened with removal (4/16)
City in New York to drop legal battles against Oneida Nation (4/16)
Quinault Nation to reopen lake on reservation to non-Indians (4/16)
Virginia tribes question interpretation of treaty fishing rights (4/16)
Lawsuit claims remains were removed for Jamul Band casino (4/16)
Mescalero Apache Tribe completes refinancing of casino debt (4/16)
Cherokee Nation Council passes gaming regulation measure (4/16)
Mashantucket Tribe working on casino deal in Massachusetts (4/16)
Opinion: Another futile lawsuit against Poarch Creek casinos (4/16)
Native Sun News: Tribes benefit from $5.15B uranium cleanup (4/15)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe marks return of chief (4/15)
DOI extends $1.2M in offers to Makah Reservation landowners (4/15)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee listening session in Montana (4/15)
Ernie Stevens: NIGA won't support racist depictions of Natives (4/15)
Navajo casino enterprise wasn't told of NFL team involvement (4/15)
Steven Newcomb: Scientists lay claim to Kumeyaay ancestors (4/15)
Opinion: Judge delivered 'remarkable opinion' in Cobell lawsuit (4/15)
Umatilla player Shoni Schimmel drafted by Atlanta WNBA team (4/15)
Fort Sill Apache Tribe wins recognition in New Mexico homeland (4/15)
CNN Series: Best places to experience Native American culture (4/15)
Lummi Nation argues for treaty fishing rights in disputed areas (4/15)
Blackfeet Nation heads into election season amid ongoing feud (4/15)
School district on Fort Peck Reservation to redraw voting areas (4/15)
Ojibwe man from Canada charged for possession of wild animals (4/15)
Navajo Technical University creates bachelor's degree program (4/15)
Opinion: Ignorance abounds in dealings with indigenous people (4/15)
Ute Tribe reaches new agreement for use of name by university (4/15)
Seminole Tribe faces $9.9M negligence claim over fall at casino (4/15)
Opponents seek referendum on Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/15)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.