Mealey's Native American Law

  • January 12, 2021

    Tribe’s Water Contract Conversion Suit Transferred To 2nd California Federal Court

    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.

  • January 12, 2021

    Tribe’s Mineral Council Wins Judgment On Wind Farm Developers’ Defenses

    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.

  • January 12, 2021

    Oregon Appeals Court Reverses Vacating Of State Agency’s Water Curtailment Order

    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.

  • January 11, 2021

    Row Over Tribe’s Collection Of Hazardous Waste Storage Fees Rejected By Justices

    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.

  • January 11, 2021

    Justices Take Up Dispute Among Tribes, Alaska Villages Over CARES Act Funds

    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.

  • January 08, 2021

    Tribes, States Sue Over Sale Of National Archives Building In Seattle

    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.”

  • January 07, 2021

    Government Loses Dismissal Bid For Cherokee Nation’s Trust Accounting Claims

    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.

  • January 07, 2021

    Briefly: Army Corps Of Engineers Says Pipeline’s Impact ‘Not Significant’

    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.”

  • January 06, 2021

    Tribes, Groups Look To Halt Work On Enbridge Pipeline Replacement

    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.

  • January 06, 2021

    D.C. Circuit Reverses, Says Treasury Likely Shortchanged Tribe In CARES Act Funding

    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.

  • January 05, 2021

    Magistrate Backs Dismissal Of Disabled Man’s Suit Over Casino Eviction

    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.

  • January 04, 2021

    Card Rooms Petition High Court To Halt Tribe’s Casino Plans

    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.

  • December 23, 2020

    New York Federal Judge Sends Tribe’s Contract Claim Back To State Court

    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).

  • December 22, 2020

    Judge Trims Tribe’s Claims In Dispute Over Treasure Island Casino Trademarks

    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).

  • December 21, 2020

    10th Circuit Panel Denies Rehearing In Tribal Aboriginal Water Rights Case

    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.).

  • December 21, 2020

    California Tribe Again Denied Injunctive Relief To Stop Border Wall Work

    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).

  • December 18, 2020

    Tribes, Alaska Villages Oppose High Court Petitions Over CARES Act Funds

    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.).

  • December 15, 2020

    5th Circuit Says No Federal Jurisdiction For Injury Claims Against Tribe

    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).

  • December 15, 2020

    Justices Asked To Weigh In On Church’s Sovereign Immunity Row With Florida Tribe

    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.).

  • December 14, 2020

    Federal Claims Judge: Tribe Can’t Use Treaty ‘Bad Men’ Clause For Opioid Claims

    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.).

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