Mealey's Native American Law

  • September 01, 2022

    No Habeas Relief For Oklahoma Man Claiming Crime Was In Indian Country

    MUSKOGEE, Okla. — An Oklahoma federal judge on Aug. 29 dismissed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by a man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for causing a fatal crash while driving drunk and sought to challenge his state court convictions by claiming that he is a tribal member and the crash happened in Indian country, so the federal government had jurisdiction.

  • August 31, 2022

    Utah Says President Biden Abused Authority With Decision On National Monuments

    SALT LAKE CITY — The powers of the president under the Monuments and Antiquities Act and the dimensions of two national monuments, two issues that have been hotly contested across multiple presidential administrations, are once again at issue in litigation as Utah and two counties on Aug. 24 sued President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Utah federal court challenging his decision to reverse his predecessor’s order that decreased the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Bears Ears National Monument, which has implications for potential hydraulic fracturing activity in the region.

  • August 31, 2022

    9th Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Contract Row Over Tribe’s Casino Plans

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 18 affirmed the dismissal of a company’s suit for breach of a development agreement for a gaming facility against a Nevada Indian tribe, saying the trial court correctly tossed the case for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction.

  • August 31, 2022

    Anti-Discrimination Law For Unvaccinated Not Valid On Indian Land, Suit Says

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana economic development agency sued the state’s Human Rights Commission in federal court Aug. 30 to challenge the application of a state law on Indian land that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

  • August 30, 2022

    Judge Tosses Most Charges Against Navajo Man For Selling Hawk, Eagle Feathers

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Aug. 26 dismissed six of the seven criminal counts against a Navajo man accused by the federal government of illegally selling eagle and hawk feathers, finding that his treaty rights trump Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) regulations.

  • August 29, 2022

    Shinnecock Members Get Partial Win In 2nd Circuit In Bay Fishing Dispute

    NEW YORK — Three members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation seeking to have their fishing rights affirmed can pursue declaratory and injunctive relief against New York environmental officials but fail in their claim that they were discriminated against due to their race because “there is no evidence in the record that would permit an inference of discriminatory intent,” the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 25 in affirming in part, vacating in part and remanding a summary judgment ruling.

  • August 26, 2022

    Tribes, U.S. Government Say Indian Child Placement Law Valid, Constitutional

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is not unconstitutional because it “operates at the core of the” U.S. government’s “trust obligation” to Indian tribes and because “the Constitution expressly authorizes Congress to legislate specifically for Indians,” three Native American tribes say in an Aug. 12 amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the statute amid challenges by some states and adoptive parents.

  • August 23, 2022

    California Tribe Sues State Over ‘Bad Faith’ Gaming Compact Demands

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California Indian tribe sued the state in federal court on Aug. 22 claiming that it is negotiating in bad faith for a new gaming compact between the tribe and state by trying to impose compact provisions that have nothing to do with gambling, in violation of federal law.

  • August 22, 2022

    Oregon Irrigation District Wants 7 Klamath River Suits Centralized In An MDL

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Aug. 11 said it will hear arguments on Sept. 29 on a motion by an Oregon irrigation district to centralize seven federal lawsuits involving the management of water in the Klamath Project that serves Native American tribes, farmers and fishermen in Oregon and Northern California.

  • August 19, 2022

    EPA Announces Wetland Protection Grants For Indian Tribes

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Aug. 17 that $3.6 million is available to federally recognized Native American tribes and intertribal groups to develop or refine wetland programs.  The agency said it expects to award funding for up to 25 projects “that help build wetland capacity, strengthen nation-to-nation relationships, promote equity, and improve climate resilience.”

  • August 19, 2022

    Judge Dismisses Lumber Company’s Contract Suit Against Coeur D’Alene Tribe

    COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — An Idaho federal judge on Aug. 16 dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a breach of contract lawsuit filed against a Native American tribe by a lumber company over a lease agreement to operate a lumber mill, finding that no diversity jurisdiction exists over the tribe.

  • August 17, 2022

    7th Circuit Reverses, Says 4 Tribes’ Alienated Indian Land Is Not Taxable

    CHICAGO — Indian property that was once sold to a non-Indian but then sold back to an Indian is not subject to taxation by Wisconsin or its municipalities under an 1854 treaty, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 15 in reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment to the state and several municipalities on the issue.

  • August 12, 2022

    Most Claims By Tribal Members Against Phone Cooperative Survive Dismissal Bid

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Aug. 9 dismissed only three of eight claims leveled by Native American members of a telephone cooperative who say the coop is shortchanging them out of millions of dollars in revenue sharing payments and discriminating against them because of their race, letting stand claims for violation of federal and state law.

  • August 11, 2022

    Tribe Loses Challenge To South Dakota Uranium Mine In D.C. Circuit

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 denied an Indian tribe’s petition for review of a decision by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to grant a power company a source material license to extract uranium from ore beds in South Dakota after finding that the commission “adequately complied with the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements.”

  • August 10, 2022

    9th Circuit Sends Tribe’s Pharmacy Reimbursement Dispute To Arbitration

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 affirmed a court order compelling arbitration in a dispute among Oklahoma tribal parties and the tribe’s pharmacy benefit manager parties over denied claims for reimbursement for covered medications that pharmacies provided to tribal members, finding that the tribe’s contention that its claims are not arbitrable must be resolved by an arbitrator.

  • August 09, 2022

    Klamath Water Users Ask Court To ‘Dig In’ And Find ESA Is Hurting Water Users

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA or the Klamath Users) on July 29 opposed a summary judgment motion by the United States, a Native American tribe and two fishing plaintiffs and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment asking a California federal court to “dig in” and find that the Bureau of Reclamation’s “adherence” to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is hurting water users in the Klamath River Basin.

  • August 09, 2022

    Federal, Oregon Agencies Oppose Klamath District’s 9th Circuit Mandamus Case

    SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) on Aug. 2 filed oppositions in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to a petition by the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) for a mandamus order to remand the underlying case to a state court adjudicating the federal agency’s operation of the Klamath project.

  • August 09, 2022

    Judge: State Court Is Wrong Venue For Suit Over Fall At Indian Casino

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A state court lacks jurisdiction under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) over a slip-and-fall personal injury suit against a New Mexico Indian tribe for an incident at the tribe’s casino because the fall did not happen during the act of gambling, a federal judge ruled Aug. 5, granting the tribe summary judgment in its declaratory judgment action.

  • August 09, 2022

    Connecticut Judge Dismisses Suit Against Tribal Official Over Loss Of Cell Tower

    NEW LONDON, Conn. — A landowner cannot sue an Indian tribe’s historic preservation official in state court over her review of his property for a proposed cell phone tower because the court lacks jurisdiction due to the tribe’s sovereign immunity and because the dispute has already been litigated in tribal court, a Connecticut judge held Aug. 4.

  • August 09, 2022

    New Mexico Federal Judge: Does State Ruling Bar Navajo Water Project Suit?

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on July 29 ordered parties to explain whether a declaratory judgment complaint involving the Navajo Dam and the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project is barred by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling disallowing the use of federal courts to appeal state court appellate rulings.

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