SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in northern California on Dec. 21 granted a motion by the United States to transfer a lawsuit filed by a Native American tribe challenging the conversion of water contracts into “repayment contracts” to another federal court where two similar cases are pending.
TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma federal judge on Jan. 11 granted a Native American tribal mineral council judgment on five affirmative defenses asserted by wind farm developers to claims that the developers interfered with the tribe’s reserved mineral rights by excavating a site on tribal land without permission from the tribe or the United States.
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals on Dec. 30 reversed a trial court order vacating a state water curtailment order, saying that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the issue is covered by an agreement among parties and that is in litigation in another state court that is reviewing the Klamath River Basin adjudication.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 denied a petition for certiorari in a dispute over an Indian tribe’s jurisdiction to collect annual fees for storing a private company’s hazardous waste on the tribe’s land.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 agreed to decide whether Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) are considered tribal governments entitled to receive $162.3 million from last year’s federal COVID-19 relief funding package, which is being contested by Indian tribes in two consolidated cases.
SEATTLE — Two states and dozens of Indian tribes, tribal organizations and historical preservation groups sued several federal officials and agencies Jan. 4 in Washington federal court seeking to halt the planned sale of the National Archives building in Seattle, saying the proposal shows “a callous disregard for the people who have the greatest interest in being able to access these profoundly important records.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 4 recommended denying a motion by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to dismiss a suit by the Cherokee Nation seeking an accounting of funds held in trust for the tribe by the federal government, saying the tribe’s claims are more than adequately stated.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 6 issued a decision document pertaining to Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for the construction of pipelines that carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas, finding that “the discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States” authorized by NWP 12 “will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Native American tribes and two environmental groups filed suit Dec. 24 in District of Columbia federal court to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a permit authorizing replacement of a 338-mile section of an oil pipeline in Minnesota and North Dakota, saying the project violates federal laws and treaties and harms the tribes.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 5 directed a federal court to “promptly” enjoin the Treasury Department from disbursing part of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic tribal relief funding after finding that an Oklahoma tribe is likely to succeed on its claim that the department allocated the funds improperly.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A disabled man cannot pursue federal civil rights claims against a tribally owned casino for having him removed from the premises because the casino, as an arm of the tribe, is protected by sovereign immunity, a California federal magistrate judge ruled Jan. 4 in recommending dismissal of the man’s lawsuit.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Allowing the federal government to take away California’s jurisdiction over a piece of land so an Indian tribe can build a casino there is an attack on the state’s sovereignty that requires U.S. Supreme Court intervention, two card rooms in the state say in a Dec. 18 petition for a writ of certiorari.
NEW YORK — A breach of contract claim against a bank by a Utah Indian tribe and several of its corporations belongs in state court where it was filed, even though it involves securities partly backed by the federal Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), a U.S. judge in New York ruled Dec. 21 in remanding (Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians of Utah, et al. v. U.S. Bank National Association, No. 20-1704, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 240276).
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota Indian tribe fails to state plausible claims that a Las Vegas casino business diluted the tribe’s casino trademarks by blurring or tarnishing, a federal judge held Dec. 21 in dismissing the dilution claims in the tribe’s trademark infringement lawsuit, though with leave to amend (Prairie Island Indian Community v. Radisson Hotels International, Inc., et al., No. 20-1234, D. Minn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 239671).
DENVER — A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 18 declined to rehear its finding in a divided opinion that three Native American tribes still possess their aboriginal water rights in the Jemez River in New Mexico because Spain never acted affirmatively to extinguish the rights when it held sovereignty over the land in the 1500s (United States, et al. v. Tom Abousleman, et al., Nos. 18-2164, 18-2167, 10th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California Indian tribe did not prove that it will be harmed beyond repair by the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico, a federal judge found Dec. 16 in denying the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order (La Posta Band of the Diegueño Mission Indians v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 20-1552, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 237643).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no divide among the circuit courts and no error of law to fix, the U.S. Supreme Court should deny two petitions for certiorari seeking to have $162.3 million in federal COVID-19 emergency relief funding distributed to Alaska Native corporations (ANCs), several Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages say in three Dec. 16 response briefs in opposition (Steven T. Mnuchin v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al., No. 20-543, Alaska Native Village Corporation Association, Inc., et al. v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al., No. 20-544, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal court correctly dismissed a man’s personal injury negligence claims against an Indian tribe and a member of a tribal work party, but for the wrong reason, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 14, finding that the claims are barred by a lack of original jurisdiction and not by the tribe’s sovereign immunity (Matthew Mitchell v. Orico Bailey, et al., No. 19-51123, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 39156).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Florida Indian tribe should not be allowed to use sovereign immunity to shield it from claims that it violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) when tribal police officers got involved in a long-running, off-reservation church leadership dispute, the church tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a Nov. 27 petition for a writ of certiorari (Eglise Baptiste Bethanie de Ft. Lauderdale, Inc., et al. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al., No. 20-791, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Dec. 9 dismissed the claims of a Native American tribe against “opioid bad men” saying a “bad men” provision in an 1867 treaty addresses only individual injuries and not claimed tribal injuries (Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes v. United States, No. 20-143, Fed. Clms.).