San Carlos Apache Tribe v. United States, No. 10-5102 (Fed. Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
A 1935 settlement gives the tribe specific irrigation rights in the Gila River. The government filed another water rights claim on behalf of the tribe in 1979, resulting in a 2006 Arizona Supreme Court decree that the 1935 decree resolved all of the tribe's rights under all theories and that federal court was the proper forum for interpretation and enforcement of that decree. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed a claim against the United States for failure to secure and protect the tribe's water rights. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding the claim barred by the six-year limitations period in 28 U.S.C. 2501. Rejecting an argument that the tribe was not on notice of its harm until the 2006 decision, the court stated that the plain terms of the 1935 decree indicated that the tribe would have no further rights and that the government was representing multiple parties.