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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
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:
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne student receives top honor (5/22)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home a slew of awards (5/22)
James Davies: The new tactic is to pretend racism doesn't exist (5/22)
Thomas O'Rourke: Yurok Tribe is a leader in forest restoration (5/22)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Message to all young Native Americans (5/22)
Matt Remle: Tribal nations take a stand to protect Turtle Island (5/22)
DOJ proposes bill to improve access to voting in Indian Country (5/22)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready to exercise VAWA jurisdiction (5/22)
Grande Ronde Tribes await decision on flying flag at high school (5/22)
Cherokee Nation sues pharmaceutical firms over drug products (5/22)
Snoqualmie Tribe reports result of election for five council seats (5/22)
Law Article: Navajo Nation wages battle over 'Navajo' products (5/22)
Review: A son leads his father into the wild with 'Medicine Walk' (5/22)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to distribute $2.7M in gaming revenues (5/22)
Prairie Island Indian Community eyes $19M expansion at casino (5/22)
Creek Nation seeks Native workers for $329M casino expansion (5/22)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to debut rodeo event at reopened casino (5/22)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks need state to protect gaming enterprise (5/22)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe hit with another brine spill (5/21)
Lakota Country Times: NAIHC presents honor for lifetime service (5/21)
Ivan Star: I'm finding it hard to stand for 'Star Spangled Banner' (5/21)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds field hearing in Oklahoma (5/21)
Haskell University announces cuts to troubled athletics program (5/21)
Crystal Echo Hawk: Indian Country still invisible to philanthropy (5/21)
Judge won't require school to allow eagle feather at graduation (5/21)
School apologizes for teaching song about brutal Indian mission (5/21)
Coquille Tribe hosts National Indian Timber Symposium in June (5/21)
Pokagon Band to file land-into-trust application at housing site (5/21)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to hold election for chief and sub-chief (5/21)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to honor Civil War veterans (5/21)
Yakama Nation woman sentenced to 10 years for child abuse (5/21)
Heroin blamed for crash near Saginaw Chippewa Tribe school (5/21)
Navajo Nation business opens tech data center in New Mexico (5/21)
Opinion: Indian Country left out of nation's economic recovery (5/21)
Review: 'Hoop Jumper' offers look at allotment era in Oklahoma (5/21)
Opinion: Putting a woman on $20 bill might not be an easy task (5/21)
Opinion: Today's Indian wars are being fought over new casinos (5/21)
Oneida Nation close to opening of new gaming facility on June 2 (5/21)
Tribes hail movement on bill for one more casino in Connecticut (5/21)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hoping for casino decision this year (5/21)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe buys properties next to casino (5/21)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River elder cast in forthcoming film (5/20)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter set for new matches (5/20)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water (5/20)
NCAIED set to return to DC with Reservation Economic Summit (5/20)
Mary Pember: New allies in battle against Indian youth suicide (5/20)
Harlan McKosato: It's time to change school policy on feathers (5/20)
Bryan Newland: Important context on land-into-trust process (5/20)
Jay Daniels: Indian Country forced to choose among two evils (5/20)
Anthony Trujillo: A cultural ambassador with the Peace Corps (5/20)
Mark Rogers: Some truths of the ethnic experience in America (5/20)
Indian schools go without fixes while military schools see $5B (5/20)
Indian student in federal court over right to wear eagle feather (5/20)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe hosts Violence Against Women Act training (5/20)
Tribal traditions put to use for battle against substance abuse (5/20)
Apology sought for treatment of tribes at grizzly bear meeting (5/20)
SCOTUSBlog: DOJ urges denial of petition in tribal court dispute (5/20)
County board calls on NFL team to eliminate its racist mascot (5/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe names casino hire (5/20)
Judge again refuses to stop Jamul Band from building casino (5/20)
Connecticut lawmakers weigh bill for one more tribal casino (5/20)
Judge dismisses gaming case filed by Cayuga Nation faction (5/20)
Native casino in Saskatchewan on track with expansion plan (5/20)
Native Sun News: Program helps offenders rebuild their lives (5/19)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks water funding (5/19)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on North Dakota pipeline (5/19)
Mark Trahant: Indian Country finds success in diabetes battle (5/19)
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.