indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Choctaw Nation Trial:
Choctaw Nation releases statement after guilty verdict in case (11/21)
Former Choctaw Nation employee found guilty after lengthy trial (11/21)
Trial on Choctaw Nation fraud winds down with final testimony (11/21)
Leader of Choctaw Nation faces tough questions in fraud trial (11/21)
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux youth to join White House meet (11/21)
Obamas welcome youth from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to DC (11/21)
House passes bill to address Grand Portage Band per capitas (11/21)
House Natural Resources Committee passes three tribal bills (11/21)
Chaske Spencer: Changing the narrative for our Native youth (11/21)
Winona LaDuke: No one believes in the 'black snake' pipeline (11/21)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tax disparities remain in Indian Country (11/21)
ICT interview with DOI deputy secretary on Cobell buy-backs (11/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe rounds up dogs after deadly attack on girl (11/21)
Leader of Navajo Nation signs bill for higher tax on junk food (11/21)
North Dakota tribe in negotiations for pipeline to curb flaring (11/21)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe passes language to new generation (11/21)
Little Traverse Bay Bands swear in interim leader after recall (11/21)
Blog: Play-by-play of election controversy on Navajo Nation (11/21)
Column: Theories link Thanksgiving to 1637 Pequot massacre (11/21)
Editorial: Work with Burns Paiute Tribe on land-into-trust bid (11/21)
Ex-employee of Passamaquoddy Tribe admits to drug charge (11/21)
BIA publishes notice of Karuk Tribe Class III gaming compact (11/21)
Oklahoma reports drop in gaming exclusivity fees from tribes (11/21)
Pala Band gears up for official launch of Internet gaming site (11/21)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux woman shot and killed by police (11/20)
Mark Trahant: Lakota honor song wasn't out of place in Senate (11/20)
Dog attack blamed for death of eight-year-old girl at Pine Ridge (11/20)
DOI issues status report on Cobell land consolidation program (11/20)
Greg Grey Cloud explains Lakota honor song after Senate vote (11/20)
Steven Newcomb: Disestablishing the doctrines of domination (11/20)
Sen. Mark Begich: Moving forward for the first people of Alaska (11/20)
Bill Richardson: Indian Country feels effects of climate change (11/20)
Smithsonian: Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 won't be forgotten (11/20)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe sues South Dakota over sales tax (11/20)
Morongo Band distributes 10K turkeys for Thanksgiving meals (11/20)
GAO report looks at tribal implementation of Adam Walsh Act (11/20)
FBI opens background check database to tribal law agencies (11/20)
Survey shows most Americans wouldn't use R-word in person (11/20)
USDA Blog: Youth from Angoon Tribe carry on their traditions (11/20)
Editorial: County and critics must stop fighting Chumash Tribe (11/20)
Editorial: Oklahoma Indian museum benefits the entire state (11/20)
Muscogee Nation finally starts work on $365M gaming project (11/20)
Two tribes making push for off-reservation casino in California (11/20)
Mashantucket Tribe hires new executive for gaming operation (11/20)
Opinion: Catawba Nation makes a sneak attack with casino bid (11/20)
Opinion: Poarch Creek gaming deal won't help state's economy (11/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne activists push for change (11/19)
Mark Trahant: Historic election in Alaska with Native candidate (11/19)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on child trauma (11/19)
Republicans hold up action on Alaska tribal jurisdiction measure (11/19)
DOI official to give update on Cobell land consolidation program (11/19)
Center for Native American Youth hosts panel discussion in DC (11/19)
Sen. Heitkamp to host panel on child trauma in Indian Country (11/19)
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.