Intertribal Council of Arizona v. United States

Attorney: Melody McCoy

In April 2015, NARF filed on ITCA’s behalf a breach of trust case against the United States in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking damages for mismanagement of the Arizona Intertribal Trust Fund (AITF).  The AITF was established by Congress in 1988 to compensate Arizona tribes for the closure of the Phoenix Indian School which was an off-reservation boarding school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs since 1891.  The school’s closure allowed the Department of the Interior to exchange the land on which the school had been located for privately owned lands in Florida that would become part of a national wildlife refuge.  The Phoenix lands were considerably more valuable than the Florida lands and Congress approved the land exchange only if the difference in value went into the AITF and a trust fund for the Navajo Nation.  The private owner of the Florida lands has paid some, but not all, of the land valuation difference, and has given the United States notice that he will no longer make the AITF or Navajo Nation trust fund payments.  The lawsuit seeks to hold the United States liable for the remaining payments into the AITF.  On July 31, 2015, the United States filed a Motion to Dismiss this case, which ITCA opposed on October 9, 2015.  At a status conference on December 12, 2015, the Court indicated that it likely would be scheduling oral argument on the Motion to Dismiss sometime in early 2016.

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