Ute Tribe sues over rejected bid to buy back Tabby Mountain

May 11, 2023

The Ute Indian Tribe is suing the state of Utah for rejecting its high bid to buy back Tabby Mountain, a site that was taken from the Tribe more than a century ago and made part of the Ashley National Forest. The mountain was eventually given to SITLA, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration, which put the 28,500 acre mountain up for sale in 2018.

The Ute lawsuit alleges that SITLA conspired with other state agencies to rig the process, rejecting the Tribe’s $47 million bid, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The lawsuit claims SITLA discriminated against the Ute based on race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin.

In the lawsuit, the Tribe says state officials tried to rig the sale to ensure the land was sold to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, which hoped to use the mountain as a wildlife preserve and big game hunting range. When the Tribe’s bid came in millions of dollars higher than DNR could pay, the lawsuit alleges the state began a backroom process to kill the sale rather than sell Tabby Mountain to the Ute Tribe.

“Tabby Mountain, and the plants, natural resources, springs, and medicines found on that property have unique religious and spiritual significance to the Tribe and to tribal members,” the lawsuit states. The Tribe is asking the court to order SITLA to sell Tabby Mountain for $47 million and award punitive damages.

Biden wades into permitting and mining reform

The White House says President Biden will support Senator Joe Manchin’s bill to speed energy permitting across the federal government.

“The president frankly doesn’t love everything in the bill, but we support it because that’s what compromise means,” said John Podesta, a top advisor to the president on energy issues. The announcement came as the White House unveiled an 11-point plan on the energy transition, including reforming the 150-year-old law that governs hard rock mining.

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Quote of the day

“To meet the nation’s climate, infrastructure, and global competitiveness goals, the U.S. must expand and accelerate responsible domestic production of critical minerals in a manner that upholds strong environmental, labor, safety, Tribal consultation, and community engagement standards. The nation’s mining laws, however, are outdated, with core legal structures largely unchanged since the late 19th century. These outdated laws contribute to slower permitting timelines, inhibit sound siting and planning, create conflicts, and are barriers to the responsible expansion of domestic critical mineral production. By responsibly permitting, managing operations, and remediating mines, the U.S. can set a global standard for responsible mineral development and create good paying jobs in communities across the country.”

White House statement on modernizing the
General Mining Act of 1872

Picture this


“Who you callin’ chicken?”
📷 Grayson Smith/USFWS

Featured image: Tabby Mountain, Utah. Photo: SITLA