United States v. White Mountain Apache Tribe, 537 U.S. 465, 3 (2003)

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Cite as: 537 U. S. 465 (2003)


itself of its option. As to the property subject to the Government's actual use, then, the United States has not merely exercised daily supervision but has enjoyed daily occupation, and so has obtained control at least as plenary as its authority over the timber in Mitchell II. Although the 1960 Act, unlike the statutes cited in that case, does not expressly subject the Government to management and conservation duties, the fact that the property occupied by the United States is expressly subject to a trust supports a fair inference that an obligation to preserve the property improvements was incumbent on the Government as trustee. See, e. g., Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Central Transport, Inc., 472 U. S. 559, 572. Thus, the Government should be liable in damages for breach. Mitchell II, supra, at 226. Pp. 474-476.

(d) The Court rejects the Government's three defenses. First, the argument that the 1960 Act specifically carved out of the trust the Government's right to use the property it occupied is at odds with a natural reading of the 1960 Act, which provided that "Fort Apache" was subject to the trust, not that the trust consisted of only the property not used by the Secretary. Second, the argument that there is nothing in the 1960 Act from which an intent to provide a damages remedy is fairly inferable rests on a failure to appreciate either the role of trust law in drawing a fair inference or the scope of United States v. Testan, 424 U. S. 392, and Army and Air Force Exchange Service v. Sheehan, 456 U. S. 728, on which the Government relies. The Government's assertion that an explicit provision for money damages is necessary to support every Tucker Act claim would leave Mitchell II wrongly decided, for there is no federal statute explicitly providing that inadequate timber management would be compensated through a suit for damages. More fundamentally, the Government's position, if carried to its conclusion, would read the trust relation out of Indian Tucker Act analysis; if a specific provision for damages is needed, a trust obligation and trust law are not. Sheehan and Testan are not to the contrary; they were cases without any trust relationship in the mix of relevant fact, but with affirmative reasons to believe that no damages remedy could have been intended, absent a specific provision. Third, the Government is clearly wrong when it argues that prospective injunctive relief tailored to the situation, rather than the inference of a damages remedy, is the only appropriate remedy for maintenance failures. If the Government is suggesting that the recompense for run-down buildings should be an affirmative order to repair them, it is merely proposing the economic (but perhaps cumbersome) equivalent of damages. But if it is suggesting that relief must be limited to an injunction to toe the fiduciary mark in the future, it would bar the courts from making the Tribe whole for


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