Governor seeks resolution in Ute Tribe lawsuit over 2 million acres of land, $1B in reparations

In this 2018 file photo, Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at the Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Breakfast, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert is hoping for a resolution to a tribal lawsuit seeking 2 million acres of land in eastern Utah and a billion dollars in reparations.

The Ute Tribe is suing the federal government over land that stretches across parts of Colorado and Utah known as the Uncompahgre. The tribe claims that in the 1800s, members were relocated from the land but were never compensated for it. Now, the Ute Tribe wants land stretching from just outside Vernal down to Green River, in addition to financial damages.

“(Those) lands were treaty lands. They were lands that were given in lieu of other lands, right?” Ute Tribal Business Committee Chair Shaun Chapoose said in a recent interview with FOX 13.

The state of Utah filed to intervene in the lawsuit, raising concerns about school trust lands, water, grazing and mineral rights, among other issues. The monetary figure the Ute Tribe is seeking has stunned lawmakers on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

“Our argument was never with the state. Because it never was a state issue,” Chapoose said. “It was a federal issue.”

At his most recent Native American Summit, Herbert told FOX 13 he was hopeful they could resolve the situation over the Uncompahgre.

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Written by BEN WINSLOW,

Copyright 2019, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station

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