WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Cherokee Nation can proceed with its lawsuit seeking an accounting from the federal government of assets held in trust for the tribe in light of the allegations in the complaint and the United States’ history of mismanaging Indian trusts “for nearly as long as it has been trustee,” a District of Columbia federal judge said Jan. 15 (The Cherokee Nation v. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 1:19-cv-02154, D. D.C.).
MINNEAPOLIS — A woman’s federal civil rights claims against a Minnesota Indian tribe’s governing body fail because the tribe is shielded from the suit by sovereign immunity and Congress has not waived immunity, a federal judge ruled Jan. 14 in adopting a magistrate judge’s recommendation and dismissing the woman’s complaint (Loretta-Lynn Begay Dobbs v. Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee, No. 0:19-cv-01289, D. Minn.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims correctly dismissed takings claims by a Washington state resident over the Quinault Indian Nation’s use of a lake in a national park, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Jan. 10, agreeing that the Claims Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction (Thomas G. Landreth v. United States, No. 19-2260, Fed. Cir.).
TACOMA, Wash. — The Department of the Interior’s 2015 decision to not allow Native American tribes that have been denied federal recognition to re-petition for the status is arbitrary and capricious, in violation of federal law, a Washington state federal judge held Jan. 10 (Chinook Indian Nation, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 3:17-cv-5668, W.D. Wash.).
ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 upheld an injunction barring a man involved in a long-running dispute with an oil and gas production company from suing the company in tribal court and stopping the tribal court from exercising jurisdiction over the dispute (Enerplus Resources [USA] Corporation v. Wilbur D. Wilkinson, et al., No. 17-3708, 8th Cir.).
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Idaho on Jan. 8 denied a motion to stay the Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit against Midas Gold Corp. and its subsidiaries over allegedly illegal discharges of mining waste, finding that there is no sign that an agreement between the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over remediation at the site will be finalized in the next six months (Nez Perce Tribe v. Midas Gold Corp., et al., No. 19-cv-307, D. Idaho, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4707).
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin county’s enforcement of its zoning laws on fee simple land held by tribal members within the Red Cliff Band Reservation violates federal Indian law, a federal judge held Jan. 9 in awarding the tribe summary judgment (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Bayfield County, Wisconsin, No. 3:18-cv-828, W.D. Wis., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6054).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari Jan. 13 for a non-Indian woman’s jurisdictional challenge to a tribal court’s issuance of a protection order against her for allegedly stalking her stepson (Joy Spurr v. Melissa Lopez Pope, et al., No. 19-598, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Jan. 9 moved in District of Columbia federal court for partial summary judgment in consolidated lawsuits against the Trump administration concerning the reduction in size of national monuments, which would allow access to land for hydraulic fracturing, contending that there is no genuine issue of disputed material fact and, therefore, all of the plaintiffs in the consolidated actions are entitled to judgment as a matter of law (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605; and Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 turned down a request for certiorari in a payday lending dispute involving a Montana Indian tribe over a court’s interpretation of a delegation provision in an arbitration agreement (Sequoia Capital Operations, LLC v. Jessica Gingras, et al., No. 19-331, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe’s claim that rulings barring it from conducting gaming operations in Texas created an “intolerable” conflict among the circuit courts will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the tribe’s certiorari petition on Jan. 13 (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington Indian tribe on Dec. 20 asked a federal court to declare that it is a signatory to an 1855 treaty and that its members still have the treaty-given right to hunt anywhere in the state (Snoqualmie Indian Tribe v. Washington, No. 3:19-cv-06227, W.D. Wash.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Wilderness Society on Jan. 9 moved for partial summary judgment in District of Columbia federal court, contending that there is no genuine issue of disputed material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in its lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump related to his executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the group says was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
DENVER — An unofficial “mixed-blood” Indian tribe does not have the authority to sell hunting and fishing licenses, but the U.S. government is not entitled to a court injunction barring the sales, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 9 (United States v. Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe, et al., Nos. 18-4151 and 18-4160, 10th Cir.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Dec. 20 refused to dismiss claims by two Native American tribes that President Trump violated treaties, federal law and the U.S. Constitution by issuing a permit last year allowing work to continue on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (Rosebud Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 4:18-cv-118, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 223887).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida federal judge on Jan. 3 tossed a church’s trespass and business interference claims against an Indian tribe after finding that the tribe is shielded from the claims by its sovereign immunity (Eglise Baptiste Bethanie de Ft. Lauderdale, Inc., et al. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al., No. 0:19-cv-62591, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 617).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the government’s destruction of a handgun amounted to spoliation of evidence in a civil rights case brought by parents of a Ute Tribe member who died during a police chase, awarding the parents default judgment is too severe of a sanction for the spoliation, a federal judge ruled on remand Jan. 6 (Debra Jones, et al. v. United States, No. 1:13-cv-227, Fed. Clms.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court guidance is needed to correct a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that a small section of California land where a Native American tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, a county sheriff and deputy sheriff tell the high court in a Dec. 23 petition for certiorari (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal court properly found that 18 Native Americans cannot form a new tribe under the Indian Reorganization Act because they fail to meet the definition of “tribe” and are only a subset of Indians who live on the Pinoleville Rancheria in California, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 31 (Andrew Allen, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-17463, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court review of rulings barring an Indian tribe from conducting gaming operations in Texas is needed to resolve the “intolerable” conflict that’s been created among the circuit courts by the rulings, the tribe tells the high court in its Dec. 20 reply brief (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).