WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe’s claim that rulings barring it from conducting gaming operations in Texas created an “intolerable” conflict among the circuit courts will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the tribe’s certiorari petition on Jan. 13 (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington Indian tribe on Dec. 20 asked a federal court to declare that it is a signatory to an 1855 treaty and that its members still have the treaty-given right to hunt anywhere in the state (Snoqualmie Indian Tribe v. Washington, No. 3:19-cv-06227, W.D. Wash.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Wilderness Society on Jan. 9 moved for partial summary judgment in District of Columbia federal court, contending that there is no genuine issue of disputed material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in its lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump related to his executive order that reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSNM), which the group says was partly motivated by a desire to access land for hydraulic fracturing (The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
DENVER — An unofficial “mixed-blood” Indian tribe does not have the authority to sell hunting and fishing licenses, but the U.S. government is not entitled to a court injunction barring the sales, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 9 (United States v. Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe, et al., Nos. 18-4151 and 18-4160, 10th Cir.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Dec. 20 refused to dismiss claims by two Native American tribes that President Trump violated treaties, federal law and the U.S. Constitution by issuing a permit last year allowing work to continue on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (Rosebud Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 4:18-cv-118, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 223887).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida federal judge on Jan. 3 tossed a church’s trespass and business interference claims against an Indian tribe after finding that the tribe is shielded from the claims by its sovereign immunity (Eglise Baptiste Bethanie de Ft. Lauderdale, Inc., et al. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al., No. 0:19-cv-62591, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 617).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the government’s destruction of a handgun amounted to spoliation of evidence in a civil rights case brought by parents of a Ute Tribe member who died during a police chase, awarding the parents default judgment is too severe of a sanction for the spoliation, a federal judge ruled on remand Jan. 6 (Debra Jones, et al. v. United States, No. 1:13-cv-227, Fed. Clms.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court guidance is needed to correct a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that a small section of California land where a Native American tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, a county sheriff and deputy sheriff tell the high court in a Dec. 23 petition for certiorari (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal court properly found that 18 Native Americans cannot form a new tribe under the Indian Reorganization Act because they fail to meet the definition of “tribe” and are only a subset of Indians who live on the Pinoleville Rancheria in California, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 31 (Andrew Allen, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-17463, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court review of rulings barring an Indian tribe from conducting gaming operations in Texas is needed to resolve the “intolerable” conflict that’s been created among the circuit courts by the rulings, the tribe tells the high court in its Dec. 20 reply brief (Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas, No. 19-403, U.S. Sup.).
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals on Dec. 26 upheld a statewide administrative rule banning the use of Native American names for high school mascots unless a tribe agrees to the use of the name (Jennifer K. Walter v. Oregon Board of Education, et al., No. A161646, Ore. App.).
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Indian tribe cannot sue a third-party nontribal business for proceeds from timber taken from the tribe’s reservation because the tribe has already been paid for the timber through its own tribal logging company, which is an arm of the tribe, an Oregon federal judge ruled Dec. 16 in denying the tribe summary judgement (The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon v. Vanport International, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-01649, D. Ore., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218517).
SEATTLE — A Washington Indian tribe cannot seek to expand its saltwater fishing grounds in Puget Sound because they were already “specifically determined” in a landmark 1974 federal court ruling, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 18 in a divided decision (Muckleshoot Indian Tribe v. Tulalip Tribes, et al., No. 18-35441, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 37471).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court guidance is needed to resolve a federal circuit court conflict on whether a trial court must first interpret a delegation provision in an arbitration agreement before deciding the validity of the agreement, two companies argue in their Dec. 10 reply supporting their certiorari petition in a payday lending row involving a Montana Indian tribe (Sequoia Capital Operations, LLC v. Jessica Gingras, et al., No. 19-331, U.S. Sup.).
CINCINNATI — A ruling for Michigan in a dispute that’s been to the U.S. Supreme Court and back over whether an Indian tribe can operate a casino on a piece of land away from its reservation was vacated Dec. 13 by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which remanded an issue of statutory interpretation to a federal district court (Bay Mills Indian Community v. Gretchen Whitmer, Nos. 18-2259 and 18-2302, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 36877).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no conflict among the courts and several misinterpretations of an appellate court ruling, there are no grounds for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a non-Indian woman’s jurisdictional challenge to a tribal court’s issuance of a protection order against her for allegedly stalking her stepson, tribal court defendants told the high court Dec. 9 (Joy Spurr v. Melissa Lopez Pope, et al., No. 19-598, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 7209).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American woman seeking to have her claims against the estate of her late husband heard by a tribal court lost her bid for U.S. Supreme Court review Dec. 16 when the high court denied her petition for certiorari (Arietta J. Kurowski v. Estate of Kenneth H. Kurowski, No. 19-477, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 7546).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are now two prisoners in Oklahoma awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation and whether the crimes they committed were in Indian country after the high court granted certiorari Dec. 13 to a man convicted for the third time of sexual molestation of children (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 7526).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on Dec. 12 stayed his confirmation of an arbitration award under which the Seneca Nation of Indians must pay New York nearly $256 million for the state’s share of the tribe’s gambling revenue pending the tribe’s appeal of the ruling to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Seneca Nation of Indians v. New York, No. 1:19-cv-735, W.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214399).
PHOENIX — The full Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 11 declined to revisit its ruling that tribal and conservation groups cannot challenge the federal government’s approvals of coal mining activities by an Indian company on Indian land because the company cannot be joined to the action as an indispensable party due to its sovereign immunity as an arm of the tribe (Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, et al., No. 17-17320, 9th Cir.).