Mealey's Native American Law

  • January 13, 2020

    Tribe’s Gaming Dispute With Texas Will Not Be Heard By High Court

    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.).

  • January 13, 2020

    Washington Tribe Sues State Over Right To Hunt Outside The Reservation

    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.).

  • January 10, 2020

    Group:  Judgment Valid In Its National Monument Case Against Trump Administration

    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]).

  • January 10, 2020

    10th Circuit Upholds Ruling That Tribe Cannot Sell Hunting, Fishing Licenses

    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.).

  • January 10, 2020

    Tribes’ Claims Against Trump Over Pipeline Permit Survive Dismissal Bids

    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).

  • January 08, 2020

    Church Row Involving Florida Tribe Dismissed Due In Part To Tribal Immunity

    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).

  • January 07, 2020

    Gun Evidence Limited As Sanction In Reservation Police Shooting Case

    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.).

  • January 07, 2020

    Justices Asked To Decide If California Traffic Stop Site Is Part Of Reservation

    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.).

  • January 06, 2020

    9th Circuit Says Tribal Members Cannot Organize As Separate Tribe

    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.).

  • December 31, 2019

    Texas, Tribe, Amici Debate Need For High Court Review In Gaming Dispute

    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.).

  • December 31, 2019

    Oregon Court Upholds Rule For Tribes To Allow Use Of Names For School Mascots

    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.).

  • December 26, 2019

    Private Company Does Not Owe Tribe For Timber Sales, Federal Judge Rules

    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).

  • December 20, 2019

    9th Circuit Panel Majority Says Washington Tribe’s Fishing Grounds Already Set

    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).

  • December 20, 2019

    Companies In Payday Lending Case Urge Review Over Arbitration Ruling

    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.).

  • December 17, 2019

    6th Circuit Sends Ruling On Michigan Tribal Casino Land Back To District Court

    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).

  • December 17, 2019

    Tribe Decries Cert Bid By Non-Indian Who Was Hit With Tribal Protection Order

    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).

  • December 16, 2019

    High Court Justices Deny Petition Seeking Oneida Tribal Court Jurisdiction

    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).

  • December 16, 2019

    Cert Granted For Second Major Crimes Act Case From Oklahoma’s Creek Nation

    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).

  • December 13, 2019

    Judge Stays $256M Gaming Deal Award Against New York Tribe Pending Appeal

    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).

  • December 13, 2019

    9th Circuit Rejects Full Court Review Of Immunity Ruling For Indian Coal Company

    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.).

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