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Mealey's Native American Law

  • June 22, 2018

    Tribe: Trump Administration’s Fracking Permit Decision Is ‘Unlawful’

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation on June 20 filed a lawsuit in District of Columbia federal court against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke seeking declaratory relief from the “unlawful decision” by the DOI that invalidated a stay issued by another federal agency with regard to hydraulic fracturing permits (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. The United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-1462, D. D.C.).

  • June 22, 2018

    Court Cannot Declare Tribe Is Federally Recognized, Judge Rules

    TACOMA, Wash. — While a Washington Indian tribal group cannot be granted federal recognition by a court, it can challenge the government’s decision to not allow Native American tribes that have been denied recognition to re-petition for the coveted status, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington held June 20 (Chinook Indian Nation, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-5668, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103273).

  • June 20, 2018

    Native Alaskan Village Sues Contractor Over Work Done On Hydroelectric Plant

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Native Alaskan village and its council say in a June 18 federal court lawsuit that a construction company owes the village $450,000 for shoddy work done and then left unrepaired on the village’s hydroelectric plant (Native Village of Chignik Lagoon v. Orion Marine Contractors, Inc., et al., No. 3:18-cv-00140, D. Alaska).

  • June 19, 2018

    Wells Fargo’s $142M Unauthorized Account Settlement Is Granted Final Approval

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on June 14 granted final approval of a $142 million settlement that will be paid by Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank N.A. to resolve class claims that the bank opened accounts for individuals, enrolled them in products and services and submitted applications for products and services without consent (Shahriar Jabbari, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Company, et al., No. 15-2159, N.D. Calif.).

  • June 19, 2018

    Government’s Arguments In Treaty Row Lack Merit, Indian Company Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court justices should reject the United States’ “lukewarm” arguments to grant certiorari to decide whether an 1855 Indian treaty protects a tribe in Washington state from paying state taxes on gasoline it hauls to a reservation, the tribe’s gas-hauling business says in a May 30 supplemental brief (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 18, 2018

    Cert Granted Again To Resolve Government’s Control Over National Parks In Alaska

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court will take a second crack at deciding the extent of control the federal government has over land and water in Alaska national parks under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), with the court granting certiorari June 18 for a second time on a moose hunter’s challenge to court rulings in the dispute (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 15, 2018

    Colorado Mine Spill Cases Should Not Be Consolidated, Navajo Nation, Others Say

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Navajo Nation and the states of New Mexico and Utah on June 7 filed a brief in a New Mexico federal court arguing that their lawsuit should not be consolidated with others against the companies that spilled 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage and heavy metals into the Animas and San Juan rivers. The Navajo Nation and the states argue that the spill has tainted the groundwater supply (In re:  Gold King Mine Release in San Juan County, Colorado on August 5, 2015, No. 18-2824, D. N.M.).

  • June 13, 2018

    Blackfeet Tribe, Interior Department Implement Water Settlement, Compact

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chairman of the Blackfeet Nation and the secretary of the Interior on June 12 signed documents implementing the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act of 2016 and the Blackfeet Tribe-Montana-United States Water Compact.

  • June 13, 2018

    Klamath Tribes Sue Federal Agencies Over Operation Of Klamath Project On Fish

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Klamath Tribes on May 23 sued three U.S. agencies, alleging that their operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project is endangering two fish species that are crucial to the tribe’s survival and culture (The Klamath Tribes v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., No. 18-3078, N.D. Calif.).

  • June 12, 2018

    RICO Claims Against Tribe Booted, But Law Firm Given Leave To Amend

    SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on June 7 dismissed four claims, including negligence and racketeering, leveled by a law firm and tribal members against an Indian tribe and the tribe’s new law firm, for lack of specific allegations, but gave the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend all but one dismissed claim (Williams & Cochrane, LLP v. Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, et al., No. 3:17-cv-01436, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96158).

  • June 11, 2018

    8th Circuit Nixes North Dakota’s Bid To Require Street Address To Vote

    ST. LOUIS — North Dakota must hold its 2018 primary election using eligibility guidelines ordered by a federal judge, including not having to provide a current residential street address, after the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 8 declined to stay the address ruling pending the state’s appeal of the judge’s injunction in a case filed by Native Americans (Richard Brakebill, et al. v. Alvin Jaeger, No. 18-1725, 8th Cir.).

  • June 11, 2018

    Justices Deadlock; Road Culverts Must Be Fixed To Protect Tribes’ Fishing Rights

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 11 affirmed — due to one recusal and an equally divided court — that the state of Washington must correct hundreds of fish-blocking road culverts because they are in violation of more than 150-year-old treaties guaranteeing fishing rights to Native Americans (Washington v. United States, et al., No. 17-269, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 11, 2018

    New York High Court OKs Pre-Collection Of Cigarette Taxes On Tribal Land

    ALBANY, N.Y. — In a June 7 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals found that enforcement of a law that requires retailers on reservation land to prepay taxes on cigarette sales to patrons who are not members of the Seneca Nation of Indians does not run afoul of Indian Law Section 6 or the Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1842 (Eric White, et al. v. Eric Schneiderman, et al., No. 59, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 1353).

  • June 7, 2018

    Significance Of Reservation Ruling Demands Review By Justices, Tribes Argue

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ finding that the size of an Indian reservation in Wyoming was diminished in 1905 by an act of Congress warrants review by the U.S. Supreme Court because it is wrong and because the case is “enormously” and “exceptionally” important, the two tribes that live on the reservation tell the high court in separate June 4 reply briefs (Eastern Shoshone Tribe v. Wyoming, et al., No. 17-1164, Northern Arapaho Tribe, et al. v. Wyoming, et al., No. 17-1159, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 7, 2018

    Reversal Of Arbitration Award For Tribe In Taxation Row Heads To High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court justices need to review a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision to vacate an arbitration award in favor of an Oklahoma Indian tribe in a dispute with the state over a drink tax at tribal casinos because the ruling violates the strong federal policy of enforcing arbitration agreements, the tribe tells the high court in its May 30 petition for a writ of certiorari (Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. Oklahoma, No. 17-1624, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2144).

  • June 6, 2018

    10th Circuit Denies Motions To Dismiss Appeal And Motions To Stay Methane Rule

    DENVER — A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 4 denied motions to dismiss a case challenging the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations, and it denied motions to stay implementation of the rule filed by environmental organizations. The panel said it lacked jurisdiction over the appeals and it held that the groups failed to demonstrate that the stay factors weigh in their favor (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., 18-8027, 10th Cir.)

  • June 6, 2018

    Separate Track Created In Opioid MDL For All 567 Indian Tribes In United States

    CLEVELAND — The Ohio federal judge overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation on June 4 assigned a magistrate judge to work with Native American tribes to develop a separate track for tribal claims (In Re:  National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, No. 17-2804, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.).

  • June 5, 2018

    Florida Tribe Loses Fight Over Gaming Revenue Taxes In 11th Circuit

    ATLANTA — A Florida Indian tribe cannot avoid paying federal taxes on millions in gaming revenue that it distributes to tribal members by calling the payments “Indian general welfare benefits” under the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act (GWEA), the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 1 (United States v. Sally Jim, et al., No. 16-17109, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15011).

  • June 5, 2018

    Tribe Says Gaming Machine Contract Not Properly Before High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A fact-bound decision by a state appeals court about a unique promissory note signed by a California Indian tribe for payment of gaming machines does not warrant review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the tribe tells the high court in a May 22 response brief (Sharp Image Gaming, Inc. v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, No. 17-1330, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2044).

  • June 5, 2018

    Government Says Cert, Reversal Needed In Tribal Hunting Rights Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States on May 22 urged the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari, reverse decisions by Wyoming state courts and find that the Crow Tribe of Indians’ right under an 1868 treaty to hunt on “unoccupied lands of the United States” was not repealed by Wyoming’s establishment as a state and that the creation of Bighorn National Forest does not render the land “occupied” under the terms of the treaty (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2014).