WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Treasury Department wrongly calculated the population of Native American tribes when distributing novel coronavirus relief funding, with the mistake costing a Kansas tribe more than $7 million in much-needed aid, the tribe says in a June 8 lawsuit filed in District of Columbia federal court (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation v. Steven T. Mnuchin, No. 1:20-cv-01491, D. D.C.).
TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona federal judge on May 12 said the court has jurisdiction under two federal laws over six plaintiffs who are being sued by a Native American tribe over their use of underground water ostensibly flowing from the Gila River (Gila River Indian Community v. Joyce Cranford, et al., No. 19-407, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89584).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California appeals court correctly held that the state has jurisdiction to regulate the sale of cigarettes by an Indian tobacco company in California, so review of the dispute by the U.S. Supreme Court is not needed, the state tells the high court in a June 5 response brief filed at the request of the court (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 2018 ruling by the federal government reversing previous findings and holding that it cannot take land into trust for a Massachusetts Indian tribe was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law,” a District of Columbia federal judge determined June 5 in sending the dispute back to the government for a “thorough reconsideration and re-evaluation of the evidence” (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-2242, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no circuit court split and a proper ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court need not review dismissal based on sovereign immunity of a suit brought by tribal and environmental groups challenging the Navajo Nation’s coal-mining activities, two mine and power plant owners and operators argue in June 4 response briefs (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, et al., No. 19-1166, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on May 26 sent a memorandum to officials in the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and in the DOI’s Office of Land and Minerals Management announcing his conclusion that the state of North Dakota is the legal owner of the mineral rights in submerged lands beneath the Missouri River where it flows through a Native American reservation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 2 listed an appeal petition alleging federal taking of water in favor of Native American tribes for consideration at the court’s June 18 conference (Lonny E. Baley, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 19-1134, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 2 affirmed the racketeering and fraud convictions of two men who made billions of dollars operating payday lending schemes for 16 years, including scams involving Native American tribes as fronts (United States v. Timothy Muir, et al., Nos. 18-181, 18-184, 18-1802, 2nd Cir.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Two Native American tribes sued the U.S. government May 29 in Montana federal court seeking to stop construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline, saying that recent approvals for the work were granted improperly and that pipeline worker-filled “man camps” are a threat to Indian women and could spread the novel coronavirus to the tribes’ members, including its sacred elders and many with health problems (Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 4:20-cv-00044, D. Mont.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior (DOI) drastically overstepped its authority in taking 76 acres into trust for a band of the Cherokee Nation, and U.S. Supreme Court review is needed to correct a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling upholding the agency’s actions, the nation argues in a May 28 reply brief (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-937, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fraud and racketeering convictions of a Pennsylvania man for his role in a payday lending scheme involving Native American tribes does not need to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court because, as the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals correctly found, the trial court committed no errors in various challenged rulings in the case, the U.S. government says in a May 26 court-ordered response brief (Charles M. Hallinan v. United States, No. 19-1087, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Arizona Indian tribe sued Department of Labor (DOL) officials May 27 in District of Columbia federal court over $140,000 in fines assessed by the agency for alleged reporting irregularities for the tribe’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act 401(k) plan (White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Eugene Scalia, et al., No. 1:20-cv-01409, D. D.C.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Longtime opponents of a proposed tribal casino in California earned a partial victory when the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 27 reversed and remanded in part a summary judgment ruling for the tribe, directing a federal court to determine if the project needs a new round of environmental assessment (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-16830, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 16785).
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A South Dakota federal judge on May 20 stayed discovery until he rules on a motion to dismiss filed by government defendants in a suit filed by members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe over the government’s denial of a deadline extension to gather enough signatures to hold a tribal election (Carolyn New Holy, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., 19-5066, D. S.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88870).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 26 declined to review an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a tax by South Dakota on goods and services purchased at a tribal casino by nontribal members is unlawful in a case that presented a challenge to a 40-year-old high court decision on federal preemption and Indian tribes (Kristi Noem, et al. v. Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, No. 19-1056, U.S. Sup.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana judge on May 20 issued a temporary restraining order requested by Native American advocates and tribes to stop the state from enforcing a law regulating the practice of hand-delivering election ballots for voters (Western Native Voice, et al. v. Corey Stapleton, et al., No. DV-2020-377, Yellowstone Co., Mont., 13th Jud. Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A company storing hazardous waste on Indian tribes’ land presents no valid reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision affirming the tribes’ jurisdiction over the company, the tribes assert in a May 20 response brief (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s Indian tribes can expect to see payments in a second round of coronavirus relief funding beginning June 5, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a District of Columbia federal judge May 15 in a court-ordered status report on when the remaining $3.2 billion will be sent to the tribes (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, et al. v. Steven Mnuchin, No. 1:20-cv-1136, D. D.C.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A psychology professor can testify as an expert for a Native American accused of being a child molester about police interrogation techniques but cannot opine on so-called false confessions or why people may falsely confess, a New Mexico federal judge decided May 15 in a long-running criminal case (United States v. Lyle Woody Begay, No. 1:14-cr-0747, D. N.M., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85874).
BISMARCK, N.D. — A Native American tribe on May 12 filed a brief in North Dakota federal court contending that it has jurisdiction over a hydraulic fracturing drilling project pursuant to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and says a local director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abused her discretion when she approved the fracking permit for the project in question (Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 19-37, D. N.D.).