United States v. White Mountain Apache Tribe, 537 U.S. 465, 2 (2003)

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466

UNITED STATES v. WHITE MOUNTAIN APACHE TRIBE

Syllabus

the United States assumed "elaborate control" over tribal forests, identified a specific trust relationship enforceable by a damages award.

Held: The 1960 Act gives rise to Indian Tucker Act jurisdiction in the

Court of Federal Claims over the Tribe's suit for money damages against the United States. Pp. 472-479.

(a) The Indian Tucker Act gives that court jurisdiction over Indian tribal claims that "otherwise would be cognizable . . . if the claimant were not an Indian tribe," 28 U. S. C. 1505, but creates no substantive right enforceable against the Government by a claim for money damages, e. g., Mitchell II, 463 U. S., at 216. A statute creates a right capable of grounding such a claim only if it "can fairly be interpreted as mandating compensation by the . . . Government for the damages sustained." E. g., id., at 217. This "fair interpretation" rule demands a showing demonstrably lower than the standard for the initial waiver of sovereign immunity that is necessary to authorize a suit against the Government. It is enough that a statute creating a Tucker Act right be reasonably amenable to the reading that it mandates a right of recovery in damages. See id., at 218-219. While the premise to a Tucker Act claim will not be "lightly inferred," id., at 218, a fair inference will do. Pp. 472-473.

(b) The two Mitchell cases give a sense of when it is fair to infer a fiduciary duty qualifying under the Indian Tucker Act and when it is not. In Mitchell I, because the Allotment Act gave the Government no functional obligations to manage timber, 445 U. S., at 542-543, and to the contrary established that the Indian allottee, and not a representative of the United States, is responsible for using the land, ibid., the Court found that Congress did not intend to impose a duty on the Government to manage resources, id., at 542. In Mitchell II, however, because the statutes and regulations there considered gave the United States full responsibility to manage Indian resources and land for the Indians' benefit, the Court held that they defined the contours of the United States' fiduciary responsibilities beyond the "bare" or minimal level, and thus could fairly be interpreted as mandating compensation through money damages if the Government faltered in its responsibility. 463 U. S., at 224-226. Pp. 473-474.

(c) The 1960 Act goes beyond a bare trust and permits a fair inference that the Government is subject to duties as a trustee and potentially liable in damages for breach. The statute expressly defines a fiduciary relationship in the provision that Fort Apache be held by the Government in trust for the Tribe, then proceeds to invest the United States with discretionary authority to make direct use of portions of the trust corpus. It is undisputed that the Government has to this day availed

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