U.S. Supreme Court justices ask many questions about Diné coal royalty claims

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W as the U.S. Interior Department obligated to tell Navajo Nation officials that they should be getting hundreds of millions of dollars more in royalties from Peabody Coal Co.?

That’s the crux of arguments presented before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday as attorneys for the federal government and the Navajo Nation squared off in a lawsuit that could pave the way for the tribe to sue the federal government for the $600 million it claims it lost because of a failure of Interior officials to do their duty.

The case involves a renegotiation of the Peabody leases in 1985. The tribe had been getting just over 37 cents a ton for coal mined on the reservation and settled on a new contract that provided it with a sum equal to 12.5 percent of the value of the coal.



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