United States v. White Mountain Apache Tribe, 537 U.S. 465, 10 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

utes and regulations specifically addressing the management of timber on allotted lands raised the fair implication that the substantive obligations imposed on the United States by those statutes and regulations were enforceable by damages. The Department of the Interior possessed "comprehensive control over the harvesting of Indian timber" and "exercise[d] literally daily supervision over [its] harvesting and management," Mitchell II, supra, at 209, 222 (quoting White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Bracker, 448 U. S. 136, 145, 147 (1980)) (internal quotation marks omitted), giving it a "pervasive" role in the sale of timber from Indian lands under regulations addressing "virtually every aspect of forest management," Mitchell II, supra, at 219, 220. As the statutes and regulations gave the United States "full responsibility to manage Indian resources and land for the benefit of the Indians," we held that they "define[d] . . . 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.



The 1960 Act goes beyond a bare trust and permits a fair inference that the Government is subject to duties as a trustee and liable in damages for breach. The statutory language, of course, expressly defines a fiduciary relationship 3 in the provision that Fort Apache be "held by the United

3 Where, as in Mitchell II, 463 U. S. 206, 225 (1983), the relevant sources of substantive law create "[a]ll of the necessary elements of a common-law trust," there is no need to look elsewhere for the source of a trust relationship. We have recognized a general trust relationship since 1831. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 5 Pet. 1, 16 (1831) (characterizing the relationship between Indian tribes and the United States as "a ward to his guardian"); Mitchell II, supra, at 225 (discussing "the undisputed existence of a general trust relationship between the United States and the Indian people").

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