Ute Tribe pushes back on Utah jumping into lawsuit seeking millions of acres of land

SALT LAKE CITY — The Ute Tribe said it will fight any attempt by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to intervene in a lawsuit over millions of acres of land and as much as a billion dollars in lost compensation.

FOX 13 reported on Tuesday about the Ute Tribe’s lawsuit and the state’s contemplation of intervening in it. The tribe suing the federal government, seeking nearly two million acres of land it claims belonged to the Uncomahgre band of Utes in the 1800s and hasn’t been compensated for under treaties from the time. It also wants compensation for mineral, grazing and water rights which the state of Utah has said could total as much as a  billion dollars.

“Although the State has not even contacted the Tribe, the State has now informed the local media that it is going to ask the federal court for permission to intervene in the Tribe’s suit,” the tribe’s attorneys said in a statement.

“The Tribe will strongly oppose any motion by the State to intervene in the Tribe’s claim against the United States. There is no lawful basis for the State to intervene in a dispute between the United States and the Tribe, stemming from promises the United States made before Utah was a state. The Tribe’s expectation is that the State of Utah is going to attempt to use this suit, in which it has no interest, to continue with its never-ending attempt to overturn federal law which respects tribal sovereignty and to attempt to get the federal courts to break the promise that the United States made to the Tribe in exchange for the land on which most of the people in Utah live. The Tribe will vehemently fight any motion by the State to intervene, and any further attempts by the State to disrespect the Tribe.”