October 4, 2013
by Scott Lundberg
Lundberg & Associates – USFN Member (Utah)
In January 2013, the Uinta Valley Shoshone Tribe (the Tribe) recorded a "Notice of Claim of Interest Real Property" (the Notice) with the Duchesne County Recorder’s office. In the Notice, the Tribe claims an interest in the real property (including all water, gas, oil, and mineral rights) in the Uinta Valley & Ouray Reservation in Utah.
Title underwriters in Utah have instructed their agents to identify this claim on title reports and policies issued for property within the area claimed — encompassing most of Duchesne and Uintah counties and parts of adjacent counties. Though recorded subsequently to the deeds of trust currently being foreclosed, the underwriters are treating this notice as senior in priority to those deeds of trust. They have advised that post-foreclosure title work will continue to reflect the notice of claim.
For all loans made prior to January 7, 2013, this notice is a post-closing item and is not covered by lenders’ policies of title insurance.
The Notice reflects a long-running legal battle by “Mixed Blood Uintas” against federal and state governments and private landowners based upon their claim that their tribal status and entitlement to the property was unlawfully terminated in the past. Further information can be found on the Tribe’s website: www.undeclaredutes.net.
Servicers with Utah loans secured by properties in the affected counties should make note that foreclosures of those loans will result in title subject to the Notice. Removal of reference to the Notice in post-foreclosure title policies, according to the major title insurance underwriters, will require a court order quieting title on the foreclosure property against the claim evidenced by the Notice. Such litigation, if contested by the Tribe, would be extensive, expensive (likely in excess of $100,000) and lengthy because it would entail litigating the ongoing dispute between the Tribe and the federal and state governments and private landowners.
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