United States v. White Mountain Apache Tribe, 537 U.S. 465, 7 (2003)

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

Opinion of the Court

management statutes, 25 U. S. C. 406-407, 466, and regulations, 25 CFR pt. 163 (1983), under which the United States assumed "elaborate control" over the tribal forests. 463 U. S., at 209, 225. Mitchell II identified a specific trust relationship enforceable by award of damages for breach. Id., at 225-226.

Here, the Court of Federal Claims compared the 1960 Act to the Allotment Act in Mitchell I, as creating nothing more than a "bare trust." It saw in the 1960 Act no mandate that the United States manage the site on behalf of the Tribe, and thus no predicate in the statutes and regulations identified by the Tribe for finding a fiduciary obligation enforceable by monetary relief.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded, on the understanding that the United States's use of property under the proviso of the 1960 Act triggered the duty of a common law trustee to act reasonably to preserve any property the Secretary had chosen to utilize, an obligation fairly interpreted as supporting a claim for money damages. The Court of Appeals held that the provision for the Government's exclusive control over the building actually occupied raised the trust to the level of Mitchell II, in which the trust relationship together with Government's control over the property triggered a specific responsibility.

Chief Judge Mayer dissented on the understanding that the 1960 Act "carve[d] out" from the trust the portions of the property that the Government is entitled to use for its own benefit, with the consequence that the Tribe held only a contingent future interest in the property, insufficient to support even a common law action for permissive waste. 249 F. 3d 1364, 1384 (2001).

We granted certiorari to decide whether the 1960 Act gives rise to jurisdiction over suits for money damages against the United States, 535 U. S. 1016 (2002), and now affirm.


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