your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
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:
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye endorses Hillary Clinton (10/21)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band disputes 'Trump, You're Fired' story (10/21)
Repatriation review committee announces additional meetings (10/21)
Native Sun News Today: Ping-pong continues in #NoDAPL case (10/21)
Lakota Country Times: 'Reel Jobs' school nurtures Lakota talent (10/21)
James Giago Davies: Drugs and crime overrun our reservations (10/21)
Dana Lone Hill: Becoming a grandmother is life's highest honor (10/21)
Misty Perkins: Indigenous voices are lost in colonial translation (10/21)
John Leguizamo: Who was 'mistreating indigenous people' first? (10/21)
Bureau of Land Management confirms repatriation for ancestor (10/21)
Cowlitz Tribe opposes coal export terminal on aboriginal lands (10/21)
Crow Tribe signs agreement to resolve long-running tax dispute (10/21)
National Indian Gaming Commission refutes online gaming claim (10/21)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation stays quiet on long-delayed casino plan (10/21)
Alaska tribes enter new era with first land-into-trust application (10/20)
Native leaders in Alaska endorse Hillary Clinton in historic move (10/20)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finishes update to model juvenile code (10/20)
Utah group aims to elevate Native issues in an unusual election (10/20)
Chemehuevi Tribe secures approval of HEARTH Act regulations (10/20)
Poarch Band of Creek Indians can't be sued for firing employee (10/20)
Native Sun News Today: Oglala veteran shot and killed by police (10/20)
Lakota Country Times: Founders of annual Spiritual Run honored (10/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Education system diminishes our people (10/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: It's business as usual for South Dakota's GOP (10/20)
Morgan Rodman: Federal agencies work to protect treaty rights (10/20)
Mary Annette Pember: First baby born at water protector camp (10/20)
Duane Yazzie: Spirituality prevails as #NoDAPL fight continues (10/20)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opens reservation to #NoDAPL camp (10/20)
Haskell University confirms president is still under investigation (10/20)
Agua Caliente Band back in federal court to defend water rights (10/20)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe removes members amid per cap woes (10/20)
Ho-Chunk Nation moves forward with $33M expansion at casino (10/20)
Cowlitz Tribe announces more executives for fast-rising casino (10/20)
Wilton Rancheria continues to make progress on casino project (10/20)
Agency shifts course as ancient remains slated for repatriation (10/19)
Navajo Nation opposes bill that reduces share of trust revenues (10/19)
Doug George-Kanentiio: A voice for residential school survivors (10/19)
Native Sun News Today: LNI hosts girls volleyball tournament (10/19)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe voters send message (10/19)
Editorial: Republicans in South Dakota embrace Monster Trump (10/19)
Vi Waln: Water protector camps overflow with spiritual energy (10/19)
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.