Mealey's Native American Law

  • February 22, 2017

    9th Circuit: 2013 Dam Release Was Authorized, Didn’t Violate Central Valley Act

    SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 21 unanimously ruled that the United States had authority to implement a 2013 Klamath River flow augmentation release from an upstream dam to protect fish in the lower Klamath River and that the release did not violate the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) in doing so (San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority, et al. v. Kevin Haugrud, et al., Nos. 14-17493,14-17506, 14-17515 and 14-17539, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2924).

  • February 21, 2017

    Rehearing Denied For Defendant Convicted In State Court After Tribal Court Plea

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 21 declined to rehear its denial of a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a man who claims that his constitutional rights were violated when he was convicted in state court for drug offenses that he had already pleaded guilty to in a tribal court (Christopher Lynn Ellsworth v. Alfred Ramos, et al., No. 16-196, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 17, 2017

    Washington High Court: In Rem Action Trumps Tribe’s Immunity Defense

    OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court on Feb. 16, in a 5-4 decision, held that an Indian tribe does not have an interest in a disputed strip of land on the boundary of property purchased by the tribe, so it cannot use the tribe’s sovereign immunity to shield it from a couple’s in rem adverse possession action to quiet title (Sharline Lundgren and Ray Lundgren v. Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, No. 91622-5, Wash. Sup., 2017 Wash. LEXIS 219).

  • February 16, 2017

    Management Of Tribal Programs Added To GAO ‘High Risk List’

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The management of programs for Native American tribes has been added to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) list of “problem areas” in the federal government, according to a Feb. 15 news release.

  • February 15, 2017

    10th Circuit Rejects Claim That Excessive Force In Search Caused Man’s Suicide

    DENVER — The federal government’s use of at least 22 armed agents wearing bullet-proof vests to search for illegally taken Native American artifacts at the house of a Utah doctor who killed himself the day after the search does not constitute excessive force, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 13 (Estate of James D. Redd, M.D. v. Daniel Love, et al., No. 16-4010, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2496).

  • February 15, 2017

    Sioux Tribe Files Suit To Stop Pipeline Work Pending Treaty, Water Rights Study

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Another tribe of the Great Sioux Nation has challenged construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Missouri River with the filing of a suit Feb. 11 in District of Columbia federal court to stop work on the pipeline until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes a once-promised environmental impact statement (EIS) “that fully analyzes the impacts of the DAPL to the Tribe’s Treaty” and water use rights (Oglala Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 1:17-cv-267, D. D.C.).

  • February 13, 2017

    Judge Denies Tribe’s Bid To Halt Pipeline Work Under Missouri River

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Feb. 13 denied a request by a Sioux tribe for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Missouri River in North Dakota (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C.).

  • February 13, 2017

    Judge Denies Tribe’s Bid To Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge this afternoon denied a request by a Sioux tribe for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Missouri River in North Dakota (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C.).

  • February 13, 2017

    Federal Judge Tosses Property Owner’s Claims Against United States, Oil Company

    TULSA, Okla. — A property owner on an Oklahoma Indian reservation cannot pursue claims that the federal government violated environmental law when it approved hydraulic fracturing oil leases for the land because he did not exhaust his administrative remedies, an Oklahoma federal judge ruled Feb. 9 (Lyman Gilbert Lenker v. Kevin Haugrud, et al., No. 16-cv-0532, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18473).

  • February 9, 2017

    Preliminary Injunction Orders United States To Release More Klamath Water For Fish

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Feb. 8 granted summary judgment for two Native American tribes and entered a preliminary injunction requiring the federal government to release enough water from the Klamath Project to reduce the risk of infection downstream to fish in the Klamath River (Hoopa Valley Tribe, et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Services, et al., No. 16-4294, and Yurok Tribe v. Bureau of Reclamation, No. 16-6863, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18054).

  • February 9, 2017

    Tribe Seeks Withdrawal Of Pipeline Easement, Halt To Construction At Lake Oahe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the two Sioux tribes battling the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in federal court filed motions Feb. 9 for an injunction and a temporary restraining order directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the easement issued the day before to complete pipeline work at North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, which the tribes consider sacred waters (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-5259, D.C. Cir.).

  • February 9, 2017

    In Suppressing Meth Evidence, Judge Says Tribal Officer Exceeded Authority

    BILLINGS, Mont. — A tribal police officer acted outside the scope of his authority when he detained a non-Indian on a public road crossing a reservation, so methamphetamine the officer found in the man’s vehicle cannot be used as evidence against him, a Montana federal judge held Feb. 7 (United States of America v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 1:16-cr-42, D. Mont., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17276).

  • February 8, 2017

    D.C. Circuit Ends Tribes’ Appeal Of Injunction Denial, Remands For Vacatur Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 18 granted a request by the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) builder to dismiss an appeal by two Indian tribes of denial of injunction to halt work on the project because the work at issue was completed during the appeal (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-5259, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 919).

  • February 8, 2017

    Army Corps To Grant Easement For Pipeline Crossing At Lake Oahe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified Congress and a District of Columbia federal court Feb. 7 that it intends to comply with a recent presidential directive to reverse course and grant an easement to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just upstream from the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been battling the route of the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline for months (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-5259, D.C. Cir.).

  • February 7, 2017

    Federal Judge Denies Pipeline Protestors’ Bid For Injunction Against Police

    BISMARCK, N.D. — Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protestors are not entitled to an injunction barring police from using excessive force or crowd dispersal weapons when responding to pipeline protests because they are not likely to succeed on their claims that the police violated their civil rights during a violent clash between protestors and police Nov. 20 on a bridge near the project site, a North Dakota federal judge ruled Feb. 7 (Vanessa Dundon, et al. v. Kyle Kirchmeier, et al., No. 16-406, D. N.D.).

  • February 7, 2017

    Arizona Tribe Says It Need Not Go Through Adjudication To Enforce Water Rights

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — An Arizona Native American tribe on Jan. 6 filed opposition to motions by eight defendants to dismiss the tribe’s lawsuit for trespass and unlawful interference with its water rights (Havasupai Tribe v. Anasazi Water Co., L.L.C., et al., No. 16-8290, D. Ariz.).

  • February 7, 2017

    Tribal Health Group Settles Breach Of Contract Claims Against United States

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The U.S. government will pay a California tribal health services group $900,000 to settle claims that the Department of Health and Human Services underfunded contracted support costs owed under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), according to a stipulation filed Jan. 18 in federal court (Consolidated Tribal Health Project, Inc. v. United States of America, et al., No. 2:16-cv-1546, E.D. Calif.).

  • February 6, 2017

    Judge Cites Misrepresentations For Award Of Fees In Tribal Election Dispute

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Feb. 2 awarded one tribal faction in an election dispute some of its attorney fees for defending fraud and racketeering claims asserted by the rival faction-led tribe after finding that the tribe litigated the “exceptionally meritless” claims in an “unreasonable manner” (Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria v. Ceiba Legal, LLP, et al., No. 4:16-cv-03081, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15829).

  • February 6, 2017

    California Federal Judge Weighs Injunction Ordering More Klamath Water Releases

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Jan. 27 heard arguments on a motion for partial summary judgment in a suit over allegedly inadequate water releases from the Klamath Project by the federal government (Yurok Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, et al., No. 16-6863, N.D. Calif., San Francisco Div.).

  • February 3, 2017

    8th Circuit Affirms Conviction Of Indian For Battering Infant

    ST. LOUIS — Evidence that a Native American man severely injured an infant at his home in Indian country sufficiently supports a jury’s guilty verdicts on child abuse charges, and the trial court properly excluded evidence of past child abuse by his wife, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 2 in affirming the verdicts (United States of America v. Timothy Kenneth White Plume, No. 16-1340, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1844).