WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question of whether the Crow Indian tribe’s treaty hunting rights in Wyoming survived the establishment of the state hinges on the doctrine of issue preclusion and whether the mere granting of statehood rendered the tribe’s hunting grounds occupied, the parties argued to the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Jan. 8 (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Opponents of an Indian tribe’s California casino failed to persuade the nation’s top court to review the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ resounding affirmance that no federal statutes were violated in the casino’s approval, as the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Jan. 7 denied certiorari for the case (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-61, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Utah Supreme Court ruling that a businessman involved in a dispute with an Indian tribe must first exhaust his tribal remedies before suing in state court will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 took the United States’ recommendation and declined to review the case (Ryan Harvey, et al. v. Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation, et al., No. 17-1301, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 took the advice of the United States, from which it requested an amicus curiae brief, and denied certiorari for a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that construction of a wind farm interfered with an Indian tribe’s reserved mineral rights because excavation work for turbine foundations for the project constituted “mineral development” (Osage Wind, LLC, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 17-1237, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 2 issued an order refusing to hear the appeal filed by a landowner seeking rehearing of its ruling in which a panel ruled he could not establish entitlement to equitable tolling because he had not taken any action to pursue his rights regarding a hydraulic fracturing lease dispute before filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The one-sentence order did not elaborate on the reason for the panel’s denial (Merrill Chance v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-5057, 10th Cir.).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A tribal organization that provides health care services to Alaska Natives and American Indians meets all the criteria as a tribal entity that enjoys sovereign immunity from suit, an Alaskan federal judge ruled Jan. 2 in dismissing a former Native Alaskan employee’s race discrimination claims against the organization (Elena Barron v. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, No. 3:18-cv-00118, D. Alaska, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are several federal statutes on the books granting Oklahoma jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians on their traditional reservation, the United States and a state prison warden tell the U.S. Supreme Court in Dec. 28 supplemental briefs requested by the court after oral argument in a capital case (Mike Carpenter v. Patrick Dwayne Murphy, No. 17-1107, U.S. Sup.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Indian tribe’s latest challenge to a 1954 easement across its reservation for the New York State Thruway is barred by collateral estoppel based on a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that the state holds a valid permanent easement, a federal magistrate judge decided Dec. 19 in recommending dismissal of the tribe’s suit (Seneca Nation v. Andrew Cuomo, et al., No. 1:18-cv-429, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214028).
PHILADELPHIA — A Native American couple in Pennsylvania failed to present sufficient evidence that a township and its officials discriminated against them based on their race, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Dec. 28 in affirming summary judgment to the township and officials (Dale W. Thorpe, et al. v. Upper Makefield Township, et al., No. 17-3228, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 36663).
UTICA, N.Y. — Two police officers for a Native American tribe did not use excessive force when subduing and arresting a casino patron who was running away from them, a New York federal judge ruled Dec. 18 in awarding the officers summary judgment on the patron’s civil rights claims (Craig Alexander v. Robert Nolan, et al., No. 6:17-cv-0725, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212595).
SEATTLE — The faction of the Nooksack Indian Tribe battling disenrollment from the tribe deserves more than $90,000 in attorney fees for its defense of an appeal by the rival faction that was voluntarily dismissed, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Dec. 13 (Margretty Rabang, et al. v. Robert Kelly, Jr., et al., No. 17-35427, 9th Cir.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 declined to rehear its decision that a natural gas company cannot condemn a piece of land in Oklahoma for a pipeline easement because an Indian tribe’s undivided ownership interest in the property makes it tribal land protected by sovereign immunity. The next day, the court said the tribal landowners are entitled to an award of attorney fees for winning the appeal (Enable Oklahoma Intrastate Transmission, LLC v. 25 Foot Wide Easement, et al., No. 17-6188, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should heed the advice of the solicitor general and rule in favor the Crow Indian tribe’s hunting rights in Wyoming because the case the state relies on in its issue preclusion argument has been supplanted by Supreme Court precedent, a tribal elk hunter tells the justices in a Dec. 13 brief (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed the denial of an injunction sought by an Oklahoma Indian tribe to prevent another tribe from operating a casino after finding that the opposing tribe “is clearly unlikely to prevail on the merits” of its challenges to the federal government’s approvals for the casino (Comanche Nation of Oklahoma v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-6247, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35174).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The federal government can present evidence at trial of a girl’s Indian status in a sexual assault case, and her lack of enrollment in a tribe “at the time the offenses allegedly occurred is not dispositive of that issue,” a North Carolina federal judge ruled Dec. 12 in denying the accused’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him (United States v. Arlen Flores, No. 1:18-cr-00102, W.D. N.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209200).
SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government properly found that a California Indian tribe’s reorganization effort was invalid, that its membership is not limited to five individuals in one faction and that the United States does not recognize leadership of the tribal government, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 11 (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-16321, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34800).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 10 denied a request by an imprisoned member of a settlement class of Native Americans to reconsider its decision to dismiss his claims seeking release of his settlement funds by the prison as moot since the prison had since released the money to him (Elouise Pepion Cobell, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., Nos. 17-5111 and 17-5125, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34668).
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on Nov. 20 voluntarily dismissed 12 appeals of a federal district court judgment in favor of two Native American tribes over the release of water into the Klamath River (Yurok Tribe, et al. v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., and Hoopa Valley Tribe v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., Nos. 17-15676, et al., 9th Cir.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 9 clarified language in its August ruling in a New Mexico water adjudication but did not change the outcome of its decision (New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer, et al. v. Nansy Carson, et al., No. 17-2147, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32161).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe’s California casino should not have been approved because of the harm it will cause the surrounding community, and the federal government violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in comparing those harms to casino benefits, opponents of the casino tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a Dec. 10 reply brief (Stand Up For California!, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-61, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 4748).