Affiliated Ute Citizens of Utah v. United States

PETITIONER: Affiliated Ute Citizens of Utah
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Christian County, Kentucky

DOCKET NO.: 70-78
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 406 US 128 (1972)
ARGUED: Oct 18, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1972

Potter Stewart - .
Mr. Attorney General -
A. Raymond Randolph, Jr. -
Marvin J. Bertoch - for respondents First Security Bank of Utah, N.A., and others
Parker M. Nielson - for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Affiliated Ute Citizens of Utah v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 18, 1971 in Affiliated Ute Citizens of Utah v. United States

William O. Douglas:

70-78, Affiliated UTE Citizens versus United States.

Mr. Attorney General:

Mr. Justice Douglas, and may it please the Court.

I move the admission pro hac vice of A. Raymond Randolph for the purpose of arguing this case.

Mr. Randolph is a member of the Bar of the State of California and a member of my staff, and I recommend him to the Court.

William O. Douglas:

Your motion is granted.

Mr. Nielson, you may proceed when you're ready.

Parker M. Nielson:

Mr. Justice Douglas and may it please the Court.

The matter now at bar involves the seemingly unrelated provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Ute Termination Act of 1954.

These two seemingly unrelated statutes are drawn into focus in this case because both of them involved prohibitions against overreaching and both of them create limited fiduciary obligations with respect to those who are subject to their provisions.

The Ute Termination Act of 1954 had the effect of dividing the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservations into two entirely artificially created groups and directing that all of the assets of the reservations, including in particular, as far as the fact of this case are concerned, beneficial interest in the mineral estate, were to be divided between the two groups and to be distributed to the -- the Indians about to be terminated.

Now, I note in passing that those who are responsible for the drafting of this law have referred to the group that was about to be terminated as mixed-bloods.

The term “mixed-blood” is itself a slur, and it is offensive to the petitioners in this case who prefer to be referred to by the term “terminated Utes”.

The petitioner Affiliated Ute Citizens of the State of Utah is the authorized representative of all the terminated Utes, which was formed in the manner specified in Section 6 of the Ute Termination Act by a constitution and bylaws which was duly ratified by the majority vote of all of the adult terminated Utes at a special election called by the Secretary of the Interior.

Why the statute of course, talks about mixed-blood and the only terminated Utes are those who were referred to in the statute as mixed-blood, isn't that correct?

Parker M. Nielson:

That is correct, Mr. Justice Stewart.

When I made reference to that circumstance, what I had in mind is that in reality, if we want to talk in terms of the ancestry of the Indians on this reservation, all of them are indeed mixed-bloods.

(Voice Overlap) talking?

I thought it might helpful to talk in terms of the statute.

Parker M. Nielson:


And the statute does use that phrase throughout.

Parker M. Nielson:

It does, Mr. Justice Stewart, and my point simply was that the term itself is offensive to the petitioners and they have designated themselves otherwise in these proceedings.


Parker M. Nielson:

The statute that so provide.

No one in these proceedings disputes that the Affiliated Ute Citizens was the organization which was formed in the manner specified by the statute.

There is, however, a rival organization, which we will discuss in some detail in these proceedings, known as the Ute Distribution Corporation.

The Ute Distribution Corporation is a corporation formed under the corporate laws of the State of Utah.

It was not formed by the adoption of a constitution and bylaws, it was not ratified by a majority vote of all terminated Ute Indians nor was it considered at a special election called by the Secretary for that purpose.

That's the crux of the problem in this case.

These are the -- these two rival organizations is the question of how the powers of the authorized representative could have been transferred from the Affiliated Ute Citizens, who admittedly were originally invested with those powers, to the Ute Distribution Corporation.

It is, thus, a conveyancing problem, plain and simple.