Mealey's Native American Law

  • March 23, 2017

    Texas Seeks To Intervene In Case Challenging Federal Fracking Gas Flaring Rule

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Attorneys for the state of Texas on March 21 filed a brief in Wyoming federal court arguing that Texas should be permitted to intervene as a petitioner in consolidated litigation pertaining to implementation of a new federal rule on venting and flaring oil and gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, contending that the rule “impacts Texas’s interests in regulating oil and gas, and air quality, within its borders” (State of Wyoming, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, Western Energy Alliance, et al. v. Sally Jewell, et al., No. 16-280, D. Wyo.).

  • March 21, 2017

    Cert Denied For 7th Circuit’s Rejection Of Immunity Waiver In Credit Act Suit

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity bars a man’s class action claims that the tribe violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) by printing identifying information on his credit card receipts will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20 declined to hear the man’s challenge to the decision (Jeremy Meyers v. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, No. 16-745, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 17, 2017

    Washington’s Top Court Exempts Tribal Gas-Hauling Business From Fuel Tax

    OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Native American business in Washington can haul gasoline into the state without paying fuel taxes because it is protected by a “right to travel” provision in an 1855 treaty, the Washington Supreme Court held March 16 in a divided opinion (Cougar Den, Inc. v. Washington State Department of Licensing, No. 92289-6, Wash. Sup., 2017 Wash. LEXIS 334).

  • March 16, 2017

    Washington Tribe Not Recognized Under Indian Gaming Act, Federal Judge Finds

    TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal judge on March 15 shot down an Indian tribe’s bid to establish a gaming operation when he found that Congress did not clearly establish that it intended to recognize the tribe as an “Indian tribe” under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and that the Department of the Interior (DOI) reasonably held that only tribes recognized by the secretary of the Interior under the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act are entitled to engage in gaming under the IGRA (Frank’s Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission, et al., No. 15-5828, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37218).

  • March 15, 2017

    Indians’ Ban From Tribal Property Upheld By Divided 9th Circuit

    SAN FRANCISCO — The banishment of four tribal members — one for 10 years — from the tribe’s school, community center, casino and other properties does not constitute a “detention” under the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), so a federal court does not have jurisdiction to consider the expelled members’ habeas corpus petition, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority held March 14 (Jessica Tavares, et al. v. Gene Whitehouse, et al., No. 14-15814, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4427).

  • March 14, 2017

    Judge Allows Tribes’ Claims Over California Highway Project To Proceed

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Two California Indian tribes have alleged facts sufficient to state a claim based on the alleged failure of the U.S. government to engage in a government-to-government consultation process with the tribes under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for construction of a highway bypass, a federal judge ruled March 10 in declining to dismiss the tribes’ claims against the government (Round Valley Indian Tribes of California, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No. 15-cv-04987, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34923).

  • March 13, 2017

    11th Circuit Upholds Penalizing Tribe’s Counsel For Case Against Tribal Officials

    ATLANTA — A federal judge correctly sanctioned a Miami attorney for his bad faith pursuit of multimillion dollar embezzlement claims against tribal officials and lawyers but violated the attorney’s due process right in determining the amount of the “sizable” sanctions award, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 8 (Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, et al. v. Billy Cypress, et al., No. 15-11223, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4058).

  • March 9, 2017

    Tribe, U.S. Government Say Review Of Approvals For Casino Not Needed

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A decision by the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirming approval of a Washington state Indian tribe’s request to take land for a casino into trust does not need to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court because the appeals court properly deferred to the federal government’s interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) when it approved the trust request, the tribe argues in a March 1 response brief (Citizens Against Reservation Shopping, et al. v. K. Jack Haugrud, Acting Secretary of the Interior, et al., No. 16-572, U.S. Sup.; 2017 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 719).

  • March 9, 2017

    Judge Reopens Case In Order To Approve Deal Between Indian Tribe, Federal Agency

    DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Feb. 22 issued an order reopening a case for the purpose of approving a settlement reached between the U.S. government and an Indian tribe regarding use of hydraulic fracturing techniques in oil and gas development on tribal lands (Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al., No. 15-1303, D. Colo.).

  • March 8, 2017

    Injunction Denied; Judge Says Tribe Unlikely To Win Religious Freedom Argument

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — After determining it is unlikely that a Sioux tribe can prove that an easement for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) constitutes a substantial burden on the tribe’s free exercise of religion, a District of Columbia federal judge on March 7 refused to grant an injunction halting construction on the pipeline (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31967).

  • March 8, 2017

    United States: Federal Claims Court Should Dismiss Crow Creek Sioux Lawsuit

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States on March 3 told the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that it should dismiss a Native American tribe’s lawsuit seeking compensation for water it claims it owns in the Missouri River, which it says has been unconstitutionally taken (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe v. United States of America, No. 1:16-CV-0760-RHH, Fed. Clms.).

  • March 8, 2017

    9th Circuit Agrees Tribe’s Reserved Water Rights Include Groundwater

    SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 7 affirmed a lower court’s partial summary judgment ruling that a Native American tribe’s reserved water rights include groundwater (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 15-55898, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4009).

  • March 7, 2017

    Tribal Member’s Civil Rights Claim Over Drumming Citation Fails, Judge Rules

    MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin police officers did not violate a Native American’s constitutional rights by prohibiting him from playing his drum without a permit inside the state Capitol building, a federal judge held March 3 in granting the officers summary judgment on claims against them in their individual capacities (Lincoln S. Morris v. Mike Huebsch, et al., No. 3:12-cv-319, W.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30770).

  • March 6, 2017

    Pawnee Nation Sues 2 Fracking Companies For Earthquake Damage

    PAWNEE, Okla. — The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma on March 3 filed a petition in the District Court of the Pawnee Nation against two oil companies, alleging that they are liable for damages because their oil operations, which use hydraulic fracturing techniques, resulted in “human-induced” earthquakes (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. CIU-2017-003, D. Pawnee Nation).

  • March 6, 2017

    In Amended Ruling, 9th Circuit Rejects State’s Challenge To Road Culverts’ Removal

    SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an amended opinion March 2 providing additional reasoning for affirming the issuance of an injunction directing Washington state to reconstruct or replace 817 culverts under roads that are blocking the passage of fish in violation of Indian treaties from the 1800s that guarantee off-reservation fishing rights for several tribes (United States of America, et al. v. State of Washington, No. 13-35474, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3816).

  • March 3, 2017

    United States Not Liable For Athlete’s Brain Injury, 9th Circuit Holds

    SEATTLE — Employees of an Indian high school did not violate Washington state’s youth sports concussion law by permitting a 16-year-old student who suffered a stroke while playing in a football game to play football that year or by failing to remove him from the game after he suffered two hits to the head, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 28 (Daphne Ingram, et al. v. United States of America, by and through the Department of the Interior, et al., No. 14-35359, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3655).

  • March 3, 2017

    Judge Overrules Tribe’s Objections To Consent Decree Over Facility’s Emissions

    SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Feb. 23 overruled objections from the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe that a consent decree between the federal government and Blue Lake Power LLC to resolve claims that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) was unreasonable, ruling that the agreement would reduce emissions and have long-lasting benefits to the public (United States of America v. Blue Lake Power, LLC, No. 16-cv-00961-JD, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25662).

  • March 2, 2017

    Casino Companies Protected Against Bankruptcy Transfer Claims, Judge Holds

    WILMINGTON, Del. — Two Indian gaming entities “are sufficiently related to their respective Indian tribes” to be shielded by the tribes’ sovereign immunity, and the immunity is not abrogated by two provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge held Feb. 28 (In re Money Centers of America, Inc., et al., No. 14-10603 [Casino Caribbean, LLC, et al. v. Money Centers of America, Inc., et al., No. 14-50437; Michael St. Patrick Baxter v. Thunderbird Entertainment Center, Inc., No. 16-50410], D. Del. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 548).

  • March 2, 2017

    Judge Approves Dismissal Of Drinking Water Case Amid Document Dispute

    SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 27 issued an order approving a settlement in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group that sought declaratory relief for alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in relation to documents pertaining to an investigation of groundwater contamination on Native American lands (Friends of Toppenish Creek v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, et al., No. 16-3013, E.D. Wash.).

  • March 1, 2017

    13 Sioux Accuse Trump Of Illegally Speeding Pipeline Work For Personal Reasons

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirteen members of the Great Sioux Nation sought to intervene Feb. 27 in a District of Columbia federal action challenging construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) so they can file a suit alleging that President Donald Trump is personally liable for damages for illegally expediting approval of the project while having a financial interest in a pipeline company (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C.).