your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Wyoming tribes win appeal of breach of trust lawsuit
Thursday, April 8, 2004

A federal appeals court on Wednesday delivered victory to two Wyoming tribes seeking millions of dollars for mismanaged trust assets on their reservation.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe sued the federal government in 1979, alleging numerous breaches of trust. In the part of the case at issue in the appeal, the tribes claim their sand and gravel resources were mishandled and that they didn't receive the best price for them.

The government responded by trying to bar the tribes from seeking money for any claims prior to 1973, citing a six-year statute of limitations based on the date the tribes sued. Government lawyers also sought to restrict the government's liability to trust funds actually collected -- rather than the funds the tribes say the government failed, or delayed, to collect under sand and gravel leases

Both defenses were rejected yesterday in a near-unanimous decision from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. A panel of three judges said it was "clear" that Congress intended to allow tribal and individual Indian beneficiaries more time to file mismanagement suits. Language in an appropriations act extends the statue of limitations until an accounting is provided, they concluded.

"This is simple logic - how can a beneficiary be aware of any claims unless and until an accounting has been rendered?" wrote Judge Arthur Gajarsa the majority.

On the issue of funds collected versus those delayed or never collected, the court also ruled for the tribes. Based on the appropriations act, the court identified three types of breaches for which the tribes could collect money, including the government's failure or delay in "(1) collecting payments under the sand and gravel contracts, (2) depositing the collected monies into the tribes' interest-bearing trust accounts, or (3) assessing penalties for late payment."

"[W]e conclude that the act covers any claims that allege the government mismanaged funds after they were collected, as well as any claims that allege the government failed to timely collect amounts due and owing to the tribes under its sand and gravel contracts," the court wrote.

And in yet another victory for the tribes, the court said the government owed the tribes interest on money they should have received under sand and gravel leases. However, one judge dissented on this part and said he did not agree that interest is warranted.

"[I]f funds have not been collected and deposited in a trust account even due to negligence, the United States is not liable for interest on the missing funds," Judge Randall R. Rader wrote. He also wrote that while he agreed with the majority on the statute of limitations issue, he did not agree with the way his colleagues described it

But on the issue of whether the tribes received the highest price for their assets, the judges were in agreement that the Supreme Court's March 2003 decision in the Navajo Nation case was applicable. Based on that decision, the judges said the government doesn't "have a fiduciary or statutory duty to maximize the prices obtained under the leases entered into between the tribes and third parties."

Yesterday's decision appears to be the first time an appeals-level court has ruled on the statute of limitations defense, which the government has raised in several cases. In the Cobell case, the Bush administration sought to limit an accounting based on the date the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit.

Citing the same precedents the Federal Circuit relied on, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth rejected the government's motion. The Bush administration is appealing that decision to the D.C. Circuit. Court papers were filed this week.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe share the Wind River Reservation. They are the only federally-recognized tribes in the state.

The Federal Court of Claims continues to hear other parts of their case. Last October, Judge Emily C. Hewitt ruled that the government has a trust responsibility to ensure the timely collection and payment of oil and gas royalties even when tribes take greater control of their affairs.

The same judge also ruled last July that the there was no trust responsibility to "maximize" oil and gas revenues.

Get the Decision:

Relevant Links:
Eastern Shoshone Tribe -
Northern Arapaho Tribe -

Related Stories:
Appeals court revives Wind River royalty fraud case (4/7)
Judge advances suit over royalty mismanagement (10/03)
Osage Nation trust suit survives first test (07/31)
Judge strikes down a trust claim in royalty suit (07/03)
Audit files for Navajo lease recreated (6/11)
Navajo leaders criticize upheaval at trust fund office (05/09)
Judge upholds ongoing trust relationship (04/29)
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)
Bush strategy assumes no trust mismanagement (11/05)
Andersen reports cited in tribal trust cases (08/12)
Norton handed worst nightmare (7/25)
Royalty ruling impacts Indian trust (04/30)
Trust accounting looms for tribes (3/20)
Bush administration bets on accounting (3/18)
GAO: Full reconciliation impossible (2/8)

Copyright 2000-2004 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:
Supreme Court agrees to hear Omaha Reservation boundary case (10/2)
BIA proclaims another 104 acres as reservation of Shakopee Tribe (10/2)
Native Sun News: Court hears case over soil farm near Pine Ridge (10/2)
Clara Caufield: The ups and downs of growing up as a 'half-breed' (10/2)
Steven Newcomb: Doctrine of domination hinders tribal land claim (10/2)
Ian Zabarte: Western Shoshone territory in Nevada is not for sale (10/2)
Sam Campbell: Catholic Church continues to celebrate genocide (10/2)
Maia Szalavitz: Stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol (10/2)
Dartmouth removes director of Native program after controversy (10/2)
Guilty pleas for shootings of Indian men in Wyoming border town (10/2)
Santa Clara Pueblo seeks payment for use of land for utility lines (10/2)
Chairman of Mashantucket Tribe seeks another term on council (10/2)
Pro and Con: Lytton Band land-into-trust and development plan (10/2)
Chukchansi Tribe heads to vote as casino closure hits one year (10/2)
Spokane Tribe still waiting for answer on off-reservation casino (10/2)
Coquille Tribe awaits next step in bid for off-reservation casino (10/2)
Ione Band of Miwok Indians continues with long quest for casino (10/2)
Cobell scholarship fund now boasts nearly $30M from settlement (10/1)
Changes to Navajo Nation water rights settlement signed into law (10/1)
Alaska Native health corporation secures transfer of IHS property (10/1)
Judge rejects challenges to Ione Band land-into-trust application (10/1)
Native Sun News: Lakota Code Talker captured Nazi flag in WWII (10/1)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Onondaga Nation brings honor to us all (10/1)
Ivan F. Star Comes Out: Tribes paid dearly for all that 'free' stuff (10/1)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reports strong interest in pot resort (10/1)
Native alumni at Dartmouth seek removal of Native program hire (10/1)
IBIA rejects challenge to Grand Traverse Band land-into-trust bid (10/1)
DOJ audit slams handling of $70M in grants for Navajo Nation jails (10/1)
Ute Tribe and states win injunction against new BLM fracking rule (10/1)
Heather Denkmire: State tries to take river from Penobscot Nation (10/1)
Authorities investigate deaths on Northern Cheyenne Reservation (10/1)
President Obama signs bill to fund government thru December 11 (10/1)
Republican Jeb Bush defends racist name of Washington NFL team (10/1)
Connecticut tribes release request for proposals for a new casino (10/1)
Poarch Creeks meet for mediation session in casino tax dispute (10/1)
Eastern Cherokees bring gaming market a little closer to Atlanta (10/1)
Editorial: Dry Creek Rancheria casino still a threat to community (10/1)
House subcommittee embraces two tribal federal recognition bills (9/30)
Shinnecock Nation welcomes Secretary Jewell on key anniversary (9/30)
Jeb Bush wants tribes and states to control energy development (9/30)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on energy (9/30)
Former Indian Affairs attorney at Interior Department joins firm (9/30)
National Indian Gaming Commission finally sees another member (9/30)
Native Sun News: Agency in South Dakota hires first tribal liaison (9/30)
Native Sun News: Lakota blues player opens South Dakota festival (9/30)
Jay Daniels: Tribal news requires the negative as well as positive (9/30)
Steve Russell: Religious fundamentalism courtesy of county clerk (9/30)
Colville Tribes weigh amendment for small amounts of marijuana (9/30)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe raids marijuana operation on reservation (9/30)
Tulalip Tribes man convicted for buying guns despite court order (9/30)
Congress set to pass measure to avert shutdown of government (9/30)
Colombian tribe still struggling after being forced out of homeland (9/30)
Tribal communities in Nicaragua disrupted by influx of newcomers (9/30)
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.