Recent Decision – Navajo v. US

Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision finding that “the [Navajo] Nation has a cognizable money-mandating claim against the United States for the alleged breaches of trust and that the government breached its trust duties.” The Navajo Nation v. US., no. 2006-5059, slip op. at 38 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 13, 2007). The Nation claimed that the US breached its trust to the Nation by leasing land to the Peabody Coal Mining Co. The Court evaluated whether the purposes of an asserted network of statutes and regulations support a finding of a trust relationship between the Nation and the government that is “money-mandating” under the Indian Tucker Act, 28 USC 1505, and found that the law supported a fair inference of the existence of a trust relationship under the Act. The facts presented a finding that this trust relationship was breached.