BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota federal judge on April 6 dismissed tribal landowners’ trespass claims against oil companies that have operated a pipeline across reservation land since at least 2013 without renewing the easements for the line, finding that the claims are premature since the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is still working on getting the easements approved (Tex Hall, et al. v. Tesoro High Plains Pipeline Company, LLC, No. 1:18-cv-00217, D. N.D.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior (DOI) has agreed to delay acting on its decision to take away the reservation of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and revoke the tribe’s gaming rights until a District of Columbia federal judge can rule on the tribe’s request for a restraining order, according to a court order filed April 6 (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 18-2242, D. D.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Tribal defendants are not entitled to summary judgment on a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims based on the election-of-remedies doctrine and the company’s choice to first pursue judgment on its breach of contract claim, which was successful, a California federal judge decided April 3 (JW Gaming Development, LLC v. Angela James, et al., No. 3:18-cv-02669, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60264).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A habitual domestic violence offender in Indian country fails in both his procedural attack on his latest conviction and sentence and his claim of “actual innocence,” the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 6, affirming a trial court’s decision on remand (Samuel Bryce Silk, Jr. v. United States, No. 18-1908, 8th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10668).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oklahoma, an Indian tribe in the state and a convicted child sex offender will have to wait to present their arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court on the present-day size of the tribe’s reservation for the purpose of criminal jurisdiction, with the court postponing its entire April argument calendar April 3 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior issued a decision March 31 granting a request by a Michigan Indian tribe for the United States to take nearly 160 acres into trust for the tribe so it can develop a multipurpose housing unit and retail project near its casino.
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 2 affirmed an injunction for Texas that shuts down an Indian tribe’s bingo operation in a dispute over tribal gambling in the state that has gone on “[f]or a generation” (Texas v. Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, et al., No. 19-50400, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10448).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior (DOI) wants to hear from Native American tribes about how to best spend $8 billion set aside for tribal governments in the recently approved Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to a notice sent out to tribes March 31.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod, Mass., on March 30 asked a District of Columbia federal court to issue an emergency restraining order (TRO) to keep the Department of the Interior (DOI) from taking away the tribe’s 321-acre reservation, which the agency has ordered the Bureau of Indian Affair (BIA) to do based on a recent appeals court ruling in a different case (Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-2242, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Parties in a U.S. Supreme Court case asking whether Congress abrogated tribal sovereign immunity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on March 27 filed a stipulation to dismiss the case (Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, et al., No. 18-1218, U.S. Sup.).
RICHLAND, Wash. — A native American tribe on March 30 sued 3M Co. and other makers of aqueous film forming foams (AFFF), which are used to fight chemical fires, in Washington federal court contending that the AFFF contained per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) that have contaminated the local groundwater supply (Kalispel Tribe of Indians, et al. v. The 3M Company, et al., No. 20-127, E.D. Wash.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The former chairman of the Blackfeet Tribe was sentenced March 30 to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay $174,000 in restitution for his role in an overtime pay scheme that stole federal funds from the tribe’s Head Start child assistance program, according to a docket entry after a sentencing hearing and a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (United States v. Willie Andrew Sharp, No. 4:19-cr-3, D. Mont.).
DURANT, Okla. — Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is one of two Native American Indian tribes to sue its insurers on March 24 in an Oklahoma court, arguing that they are responsible for its losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 infection and coronavirus pandemic that has allegedly damaged its property and prevented it from being used for its intended purpose (Choctaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Bryan Co.).
PIERRE, S.D. — A South Dakota federal judge on March 30 awarded summary judgment to an Indian tribe — but only to a “limited extent” — on its claim that the United States violated its treaty-guaranteed responsibilities to provide health care services to the tribe’s members when it shut down the tribal hospital’s emergency room for seven months in 2015 (Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. United States of America, et al., No. 3:16-cv-03038, D. S.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54323).
MASHPEE, Mass. — The leader of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe on Cape Cod attacked the Trump Administration on March 27 for its “cruel” decision to notify the tribe that day — while it is trying to come to grips with the novel coronavirus pandemic — that the government is taking its 321 acres of land out of trust and taking away its reservation.
ADA, Okla. — The Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce on March 24 sued its insurers in Oklahoma court, seeking a declaration that its insurance policies cover its losses and expenses that are related to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 infection (Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Pontotoc Co.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana federal magistrate judge on March 23 turned back two requests by the individual operators of a Native American nursing home to dismiss a former employee’s claim that she was fired in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Tammy Wilhite v. Paul Littlelight, et al., No. 1:19-cv-20, D. Mont., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51127).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately respond to concerns by experts about the dangers of an oil spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), it must prepare a detailed environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, a District of Columbia federal judge held March 25 in a long-running challenge to the pipeline’s construction by four Indian tribes (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51540).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tribal and environmental groups on March 24 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate dismissal of their challenge to the federal government’s approval of coal-mining activities by an Indian company on Indian land based on tribal sovereign immunity, saying the ruling creates a conflict among courts that handle most of the Native American law disputes in the country (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 Department of the Interior (DOI) acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it banned Indian tribes that were denied federal recognition from repetitioning the agency for recognition status, a District of Columbia federal judge held March 25 in vacating the ban and remanding the issue to the DOI in a Michigan tribe’s suit seeking federal recognition (Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 1:17-cv-38, D. D.C.).