Mealey's Native American Law

  • August 09, 2021

    Montana Water Court’s 1st Final Decree Adjudicates Tribe’s Water Rights

    HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Water Court on July 12 issued its first final decree since its creation 41 years ago by adjudicating the water rights claimed by the United States on behalf of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

  • August 09, 2021

    Oklahoma Asks Supreme Court To Overrule McGirt In Triple Murder Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oklahoma filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Aug. 6 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the high court’s landmark criminal jurisdiction ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, saying the “abrupt shift in governance” in the state caused by the decision has been “calamitous” and is “worsening by the day.”

  • August 09, 2021

    Navajo Nation, New Mexico Settle Claims Against Mining Companies Over Blowout

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mining companies have agreed to pay $21 million — including $10 million to the Navajo Nation — to settle claims for response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for the 2015 Gold King Mine explosion and mine drainage spill, according to a consent decree the parties filed July 30 in New Mexico federal court.

  • August 06, 2021

    Doctor Targeted In Tribal Member’s Death Not A Federal Employee, Panel Says

    SEATTLE — The family of a 51-year-old Arizona tribal member who died from a tick-borne disease after being diagnosed with a viral infection cannot pursue a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) suit against his treating physician because the doctor was not a federal employee despite working at an Indian hospital operating under a federal contract, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Aug. 4 in affirming dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

  • August 05, 2021

    Judge Dismisses Case With Prejudice; Violations Not Shown In Long-Running Dispute

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge in New Mexico on Aug. 3 denied environmental groups’ motion for an injunction to stop hydraulic fracturing in the Mancos Shale and dismissed the long-running case with prejudice, ruling that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to meet requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

  • August 04, 2021

    Judge Permits 2 Tribes To Intervene In Suit Against Lithium Mine Approval

    RENO, Nev. — A Nevada federal judge on July 28 allowed two Native American tribes to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s approval of a lithium mine, finding that the tribes “have shown a significantly protectable interest that would be impaired” if they could not intervene.

  • August 04, 2021

    10th Circuit Sends Breach Of Contract Saga To Tribal Court

    DENVER — A Utah tribal court must first determine whether a waiver of sovereign immunity in an agreement between the tribe and a business development contractor is valid before breach of contract claims in the long-running dispute can be decided, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 3 in reversing a preliminary injunction and remanding a suit by the contractor to federal district court.

  • August 03, 2021

    Knowledge Of Offense Key In Michigan High Court Ruling On Hauling Untaxed Smokes

    LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court on July 30 partly ruled in favor of two tribal employees charged under state law with illegally transporting unstamped cigarettes, finding that the trial court improperly bound over the charges for trial without first determining if the workers were aware they had “transporter status” and required a license to haul the cigarettes.

  • July 28, 2021

    In Win For Tribe’s Bingo Operation, 2nd Circuit Says IGRA Trumps Town’s Laws

    NEW YORK — A New York village’s anti-gambling laws are preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because the property where a tribe operates a bingo hall qualifies as “Indian” land within the meaning of the IGRA, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 27 in affirming summary judgment for the tribe in the long-running dispute.

  • July 28, 2021

    Alaska Supreme Court Upholds Tribal Member’s Illegal Fishing Conviction

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska’s authority to regulate fishing in the state’s waters in the interests of conservation trumps a tribal member’s purported treaty right to subsistence fish, the Alaska Supreme Court held July 23 in affirming the man’s conviction and $20,000 fine for “protest fishing” in regulated waters.

  • July 27, 2021

    10th Circuit: Sanction Proper, But Jurisdiction Over Indian Land Claim Not Shown

    DENVER — While a federal court correctly dismissed a woman’s defenses and counterclaims as a sanction for disobeying discovery orders, it erred in quieting title to land she claimed ownership of as an Indian allotment without first determining if it had jurisdiction to do so, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 26 in vacating in part and remanding so the case can be sent back to state court.

  • July 27, 2021

    Tribe Gets Partial Win From D.C. Circuit In Dispute Over Clinic’s Federal Funding

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government owes an Indian tribe health care funding that it withheld because it had budgeted the money for a second tribe but does not owe the tribe for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 23 in partly vacating and partly affirming a trial court’s ruling in an Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) case.

  • July 26, 2021

    Rejection Of Dismissal Of Inmate’s Religious Freedom Claims Upheld By 10th Circuit

    DENVER — Colorado prison officials could have violated an inmate’s “clearly established constitutional right” to freedom of religion when they banned Native American religious services for at least nine days and the use of tobacco at the services for 30 days, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided July 21 in affirming denial of the officials’ bid to dismiss the inmate’s lawsuit.

  • July 23, 2021

    Judge Certifies Class Claims Against Operator Of Tribal Loan Businesses

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia federal judge on July 20 certified class claims against the operator of “rent-a-tribe” payday lending businesses whom customers seek to hold liable for racketeering and violation of the commonwealth’s usury law, finding that the operator’s alleged changing role in the businesses during the class period does not defeat the requirements for class certification.

  • July 23, 2021

    9th Circuit Declines To Rehear Tribes’ Puget Sound Fishing Dispute

    SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 20 denied a petition for rehearing for its ruling delineating the treaty-granted fishing boundaries of a Native American tribe so a federal court can enter the correct judgment for the tribe in a long-running challenge to its Puget Sound fishing grounds by other tribes.

  • July 22, 2021

    Oklahoma Sues Interior For Ending State Control Of Mining On Creek Reservation

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) violated federal law when it stripped Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to administer surface coal mining and reclamation programs on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation and took control of the programs based on the landmark ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the state says in a July 16 federal court lawsuit seeking an injunction to halt the change.

  • July 20, 2021

    Government:  Supreme Court Should Reject Indian’s Double Jeopardy Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American who was sentenced in federal court to 30 years in prison for sexual assault should be denied U.S. Supreme Court review because his prior conviction on a different charge in a tribal court does not amount to a double-jeopardy violation of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government tells the high court in a July 19 opposition brief filed at the request of the court.

  • July 19, 2021

    8th Circuit Upholds Fee Award For Tribal Parties In North Dakota Voting Law Row

    ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 16 affirmed that Native Americans who challenged North Dakota voter ID regulations are entitled to have the state pay their attorney fees because even though they waited too long to request the fees, the delay was caused by “excusable neglect.”

  • July 19, 2021

    En Banc 1st Circuit Finds Maine River Isn’t Part Of Penobscot Reservation

    BOSTON — Four years after a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found that the Penobscot Nation’s reservation does not include any of the tribe’s namesake river, an en banc majority of the court affirmed this finding in a July 8 opinion, holding that both Maine and federal Indian claims settlement acts unambiguously established that the nation controls islands within a disputed section of the river, but not the river itself.

  • July 09, 2021

    Judge Refuses To Vacate Crow Tribe Hunting Ruling Based On Herrera

    CASPER, Wyo. — A nearly 30-year-old federal court judgment holding that the Crow Tribe of Indians’ off-reservation treaty hunting rights were extinguished upon Wyoming’s statehood stands, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the opposite since then, a Wyoming federal judge said July 1 in denying the tribe’s request to vacate the judgment.

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