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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Judge limits Utah's role in managing Navajo trust
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Filed Under: Law | Trust

The state of Utah is not a "co-trustee" of Navajo trust funds, a federal judge ruled last Friday.

In a 28-page decision, Judge Tena Campbell agreed that Utah plays a role in managing oil and gas royalties on behalf of Navajos who live in San Juan County. But she rejected arguments that the state has a duty to verify whether tribal members are receiving the right amount of money for use of their land.

"[C]ontrary to the plaintiffs' assertion, the state is not a co-trustee with the United States," Campbell wrote.

As a result, the Navajo plaintiffs can only force Utah to account for the money "actually received" into the Navajo Trust Fund, Campbell said. Under a 1933 act of Congress, the state manages 37.5 percent of oil and gas royalties, but only after the royalties are first collected by the Interior Department.

"The court finds that the 1933 Act creates distinct, rather than overlapping, responsibilities for the United States and for the state of Utah," Campbell wrote. "The federal government collects the income due the NTF and sends it to Utah for deposit into the NTF. Utah manages the trust monies once they are received from the United States government."

Campbell didn't leave the state off the hook entirely. She said the Navajo plaintiffs can challenge whether Utah properly invested their royalties -- but she determined the proper standard is found in state law rather than federal law.

"At this point, the state has already invested the money as it saw fit," Campbell wrote. "So the question of whether such investment satisfied the state's trust duty is a matter for the liability phase of this case."

The judge also left open the question of whether Utah violated its duty to exercise "reasonable care" in managing the NTF She said this issue can be resolved in the liability phase as well.

The decision comes amid efforts by the state to relinquish its role in managing the NTF. Lawmakers have passed bills to put more control on the hands of the Navajo Nation, which receives the majority of the oil and gas royalties.

But some tribal members in San Juan County and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. have raised concerns about the legislation. They have been waiting on Campbell's ruling and on an historical accounting report from the state that is due in court on June 30.

The Navajo plaintiffs want the state to account for the trust, which they say has been mismanaged since its inception. They point to a 1991 legislative report that said at least $150 million went unaccounted between 1993 and 1990. Some people were convicted of embezzlement in connection with the fund.

Court Decision:
Pelt v. Utah (March 14, 2008)

Navajo Trust Fund Bills:
Amendments Related to Monies Derived from Navajo Nation Reservation Lands in Utah (HB 352) | Encouraging Congressional Action to Designate a New Recipient of Royalties from Navajo Reservation Lands in Utah (HCR 4)

Related Stories:
Navajos concerned about Utah trust legislation (03/04)
Utah Navajo trust fund accounting report due (02/01)
Utah House passes bill to relinquish Navajo trust (01/24)
Utah Navajos seek extension for state trust fund (12/04)
Editorial: Utah should pull out of Navajo trust (11/16)
Utah seeks to pull out of Navajo trust fund (11/14)
Navajos in Utah fight state over trust mismanagement (3/6)
Federal judge advances Navajo trust fund lawsuit (1/12)
Navajo trust fund case moves forward (6/11)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
Gyasi Ross: Indigenous children at border need to be heard (7/22)
Donna Ennis: Open border to indigenous sisters and children (7/22)
Jay Daniels: Land consolidation program isn't really working (7/22)
Mark Rogers: Reality of being an invisible Indian in New York (7/22)
Center: Report outlines harmful effects of 'Indian' mascots (7/22)
Yurok Tribe combats illegal marijuana farms on reservation (7/22)
County drops opposition to CSKT land-into-trust application (7/22)
Native youth hospitalized after being shot by police officer (7/22)
University of California welcomes Native youth to campus (7/22)
Unsettled: Questions linger on Passamaquoddy leadership (7/22)
WCAI: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe won't join Plymouth 400 (7/22)
Opinion: Oglala Sioux Tribe could benefit from new currency (7/22)
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.