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Benally v. Hodel

filed: July 31, 1991.

JUNE R. BENALLY; THEODORE BEDONIE; BILLY C. ADEKI; MARY YESSLITH; HARVEY BEGAY; MAE HORSESON; MARY JANE CHISSIE; CATHERINE JOE, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
DONALD P. HODEL; ROSS O. SWIMMER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDIAN AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR; DANIEL L. JACKSON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND AS SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDIAN AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR; NAVAJO AND HOPI RELOCATION COMMISSION, AN INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES; RALPH A. WATKINS, JR., IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND AS CHAIRMAN OF THE NAVAJO AND HOPI INDIAN RELOCATION COMMISSION; HAWLEY ATKINSON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NAVAJO AND HOPI INDIAN RELOCATION COMMISSION; SANDRA MASSETTO, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NAVAJO AND HOPI INDIAN RELOCATION COMMISSION; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona; D.C. No. CIV 86-912 PCT EHC; Earl H. Carroll, District Judge, Presiding. Original Opinion Reported at,.

Thomas Tang, Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Melvin Brunetti, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall.

Author: Hall

Order

The opinion filed September 13, 1990, is amended as per the opinion attached. With this amendment, appellants' petition for rehearing is DENIED.

Appellants, individual members of the Navajo Tribe, timely appeal from the district court's order dismissing their first amended complaint on the ground that they lack standing. We affirm.

I

In their amended complaint, appellants allege that the Secretary of the Interior, other agents of the Department of the Interior, and the Navaio-Hopi Relocation Commission ("the Relocation Commission")*fn1 have failed to comply with the mandates of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Settlement Act ("the Settlement Act"), 25 U.S.C. § 640d et seq., and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 ("the URA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4601 et seq., in the relocation of Navajo individuals from Hopi land.*fn2 Appellants seek declaratory and injunctive relief. Their goal is to halt the relocation of Navajos and the expenditure of funds related to relocation until the alleged statutory and constitutional requirements are met.

Congress enacted the 1974 Settlement Act to resolve the longstanding dispute between the Navajo and Hopi Tribes over certain tracts of land that had earlier been designated as reservations. The Settlement Act provided for the appointment of a mediator to assist in negotiating a settlement and partition of those areas of the 1882 Reservation area that were determined to be jointly held by the Navajo and Hopi tribes in Healing v. Jones, 210 F. Supp. 125 (D. Ariz. 1962), aff'd per curiam, 373 U.S. 758, 10 L. Ed. 2d 703, 83 S. Ct. 1559 (1963). See 25 U.S.C. § 640d. The Settlement Act also granted the district court residual authority to make a final partition of the joint use land in the event that the mediator's efforts failed. See id. § 640d-3 The district court ultimately had to exercise this residual authority; it entered a final partition in 1977, which we approved in 1980. See Sekaquaptewa v. MacDonald, 626 F.2d 113 (9th Cir. 1980).

The Settlement Act also provided for judicial resolution of land disputes pertaining to a second parcel of land, the 1934 Reservation area. It provided that either tribe could bring suit against the other "through the chairman of its tribal council for and on behalf of the tribe," 25 U.S.C. § 640d-7(a), to determine the tribes' respective interests in the 1934 Reservation area land, see id., as well as to resolve supplemental actions for accounting, fair value of grazing, and claims for damages to the land, see id. § 640d-7(c). The Settlement Act also authorized the tribal chairmen to bring these supplemental actions regarding the 1882 Reservation land in the wake of partition. See id. § 640d-17(a). Finally, with regard to both parcels of land, the Settlement Act provided that

Either tribe may institute such further original, ancillary, or supplemental actions against the other tribe as may be necessary or desirable to insure the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the reservation lands of the tribes by the tribes and the members thereof, and to fully accomplish all objects and purposes of this subchapter. Such actions may be commenced in the District Court by either tribe against the other, acting through the chairman of its tribal council, for and on behalf of the tribe, including all villages, clans, and individual members thereof.

Id. § 640d-17(c); see id. § 640d-7(c) (applying § 640d-17(c) to the 1934 Reservation land). Although these provisions are not directly implicated in the present action by virtue of the fact that this is not an intertribal suit, they nonetheless inform the parties' debate.

Congress understood when it passed the Settlement Act that certain individuals would have to move once the disputed lands were partitioned. It therefore included in the Settlement Act a provision establishing a three-member, independent Relocation Commission to plan relocation and disburse relocation benefits to those affected. See id. § 640d-11 to 640d-15. A recent amendment to the Settlement Act establishes that "appeals from any eligibility determination of the Relocation Commission . . . shall be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona." Id. § 640d-14(g). Even before passage of this amendment, however, we allowed an individual to appeal from such an eligibility determination. See Walker v. Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Comm'n, 728 F.2d 1276 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 918, 83 L. Ed. 2d 233, 105 S. Ct. 298 (1984).

The Settlement Act thus implicates both tribal and individual rights. In the context of an intertribal suit involving land, the tribal chairmen represent both sets of rights. See Sekaquaptewa v. MacDonald, 591 F.2d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir. 1979) ("Finally, § 640d-17(c) provides that individual interests may be litigated in a suit between the two tribes only when those interests are represented by the tribal chairmen."); see also Sidney v. Zah, 718 F.2d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1983) (due process not violated by allowing only Navajo tribal chairman to represent tribal members in intertribal dispute over improvements on Hopi land). But in the context of a determination by the Relocation Commission of ...


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