Court reluctantly rejects Hopi tainted-water claim

Posted by Michael Doyle on October 8, 2013 

The Hopi Tribe of Arizona went to court with an intriguing argument, claiming the federal government had breached its duty by allowing arsenic-tainted water to flow through the public water system serving the Hopi Reservation.

But a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge says otherwise.

Saying the law left him little choice. Claims Court Judge Lawrence J. Block dismissed the Hopi's case in an eight-page decision dated Oct. 4.

Block declared that:

"The court is not unmindful of the sometimes tragic relationship between the federal
government and the various Indian tribes. And it may be that plaintiff’s argument that the trust relationship between the United States and its various Indian tribes should be construed broadly given that tragic relationship and the at times almost complete economic dependency that exists in this relationship. Nonetheless, this court is bound by the law even if the result is not to the court’s liking."

The tribe had argued that by establishing the Reservation and holding the land in trust, an Executive Order of 1882 and the Act of 1958 created a duty on the part of the federal government to protect the trust property, including the Reservation’s water supply.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service