GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Nov. 8 shut down the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and told the U.S. Department of State to provide a “reasoned explanation” why it approved a permit for the pipeline in 2017 while ignoring findings from two years earlier when the permit was denied because of global warming (Indigenous Environmental Network, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 17-cv-29, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191510).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Alaskan tribal council won its four-year battle with the federal government Nov. 7 when a District of Columbia federal judge awarded the council summary judgment in its bid for more funding to operate substance abuse programs for Native Alaskans (Cook Inlet Tribal Council v. Christopher Mandregan, Jr., et. al., No. 14-cv-1835, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190469).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Nov. 5 adopted a magistrate judge’s findings by adding a new tribal governor to a prisoner’s writ of habeas corpus action and dismissing the tribe from the dispute (Daniel E. Coriz v. Victor Rodriguez, et al., No. 17-1258, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188874).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge’s request to vacate a prior ruling that she didn’t agree with in the Navajo Nation’s attempt to have the federal government return 303 sets of human remains was denied Nov. 6 by a panel majority (Navajo Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 13-15710, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 31361).
SEATTLE — Neither the federal nor the Washington state Indian child welfare law applied in a dependency hearing for three allegedly abused children because they do not meet the definition of Indian children under the laws, a state appeals court held Nov. 5 (In re Dependency of G.B., et al. v. C.F., Nos. 77311-9-I, 77312-7-I and 77313-5-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2018 Wash. App. LEXIS 2519).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question of whether the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) exempts nonpublic waterways within Alaska national parks from federal regulation was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 5 (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal court wrongly dismissed a suit filed by members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe over tribal leaders’ attempt to disenroll hundreds of members from the tribe because their racketeering claims belong in federal court, not a tribal court, the plaintiff members tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in their Oct. 23 opening brief (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 18-35711, 9th Cir.).
BISMARCK, N.D. — While North Dakota’s voter ID law has caused a “litany of problems” for Native Americans trying to vote in the upcoming midterm election, it is too late in the game to change the rules and risk “further confusion and chaos on the eve of an election,” a federal judge ruled Nov. 1 in denying a tribe’s request for a restraining order (Spirit Lake Tribe, et al. v. Alvin Jaeger, No. 1:18-cv-00222, D. N.D., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186993).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 29 summarily affirmed dismissal of civil rights claims leveled by a vendor against a Native American casino, agreeing that the casino is protected by tribal sovereign immunity (John Laake v. Turning Stone Resort Casino, No. 17-3588, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 30452).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Whether Washington state’s tax on gasoline haulers is a legal tax on fuel possession or an impermissible tax on an Indian tribe’s treaty-protected right to travel was the subject of U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on Oct. 30, with the justices voicing support for both sides of the dispute (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Two men arrested for bei``ng part of an armed takeover of an Indian casino in a battle of rival tribal factions can pursue legal malpractice claims against an attorney who advised them before the raid, after a California appellate panel held Oct. 26 that their suit is not barred by the state’s law protecting “public participation” from suit (Shawn Fernandez, et al. v. Lester Marston, et al., No. A149995, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7312).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was Congress’ clear intent in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) to exempt waterways in Alaska national parks from federal regulation, so an appellate court’s ruling holding otherwise should be vacated, a petitioner tells the U.S. Supreme Court in an Oct. 11 reply brief on the merits (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE — Three couples who own homes on a Washington Indian reservation cannot seek to quiet title against the tribe because it is protected by sovereign immunity, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 25 (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 17-35959, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 30130).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — New York can continue to seek taxes from tribal retailers on cigarettes sold to non-Indians after the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 29 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a Seneca Nation outlet store operator (Eric White, et al. v. Barbara D. Underwood, et al., No. 18-297, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 26 allowed an Oklahoma Indian tribe to take part in oral argument in a case the tribe says presents “an issue of paramount importance to it” — the size of the tribe’s reservation (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
OMAHA, Neb. — After finding that the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska is not a required party in a lawsuit over natural gas pipeline easements across Indian land, a federal judge on Oct. 23 awarded summary judgment to the gas company and condemned the last remaining two parcels in dispute for the easements (Northern Natural Gas Company v. 80 Acres of Land in Thurston County, Nebraska, et al., No. 8:17-cv-328, D. Neb., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181616).
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Montana federal judge who put the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear back on the Endangered Species List after several Native American tribes and others challenged the government’s delisting of the population held Oct. 23 that an individual plaintiff cannot continue to litigate his claims because they are now moot (Crow Indian Tribe, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 9:17-cv-89, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181852).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 denied rehearing en banc of its affirmance of a Washington federal judge’s determination that a tribal manufacturer of tobacco products located on land held in trust by the United States is not entitled to an exemption from the federal tobacco excise tax (United States v. King Mountain Tobacco Co., Nos. 14-36055, 16-35607, 9th Cir.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Native American nursing home is protected by tribal sovereign immunity from a former employee’s claim that she was fired in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a Montana federal judge held Oct. 22 in dismissing her suit (Tammy Wilhite v. Awe Kualawaache Care Center, et al., No. 1:18-cv-80, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180905).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should do what it did in first rejecting a convicted killer’s request to affirm that the scene of his crime was in “Indian country” and find that the vast reservation at issue has not existed since Oklahoma became a state, the warden of the prison where the man is being held tells the justices in an Oct. 19 brief on the merits (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).