ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal judge did not err in denying a tribal member's motion at his arson trial to suppress incriminating statements he made during police questioning after a polygraph examination, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided July 27 in affirming the defendant's conviction (United States v. Danny Ferguson, No. 19-1723, 8th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native American tribes on July 24 filed a notice in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision McGirt v. Oklahoma supports their argument that President Donald J. Trump violated the Antiquities Act when he reduced the size of two national monuments (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605, Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two groups of Native American tribes and tribal organizations filed amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 24 to support the federal government's challenge to a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling limiting the extent of an Indian police officer's jurisdiction to detain non-Indians on a reservation (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 19-1414, U.S. Sup.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A trial court properly gave a reduced prison sentence to a young tribal member with "significant cognitive impairments" who admitted that his neglect caused his infant son's death, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held July 23 (United States v. Darwin Wade Red Cloud, No. 19-1210, 8th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's governor did not have the authority to enter into gaming compacts with two Indian tribes because the type of casino gambling allowed in the compacts differs from what is allowed under state law, creating a violation of the separation of powers, the state Supreme Court held July 21 (Honorable Greg Treat, et al. v. Honorable J. Kevin Stitt, No. 118829, Okla. Sup.).
TULSA, Okla. — Five Native Americans in Oklahoma who were charged with traffic or misdemeanor offenses by local police sued dozens of counties, courts, municipalities and prosecutors in federal court July 20 seeking damages from their prosecutions based on the recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma that a large section of eastern Oklahoma is still an Indian reservation (Tayleur Raye Pickup, et al. v. District Court of Nowata County, Oklahoma, No. 4:20-cv-00346, N.D. Okla.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the Oklahoma Supreme Court correctly applying a balancing test in favor of a casino video game leasing company in its fight against a county’s ad valorem taxation of the gaming machines, review by the U.S. Supreme Court is not needed, the company argues in a July 20 response brief (Rogers County Board of Tax Roll Corrections, et al. v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc., No. 19-1298, U.S. Sup.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma attorney general announced an agreement-in-principle July 16 among the state and the Five Tribes of Oklahoma telling Congress their proposals for federal legislation delineating who has criminal and civil jurisdiction in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that a large part of eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, is still part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation.
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former attorney for the National Congress of American Indians of the United States and Alaska (NCAI) saw his defamation claims against the organization, its online news platform and a tribal news media website shot down July 14 by an Oregon federal magistrate judge, who dismissed the claims under the state’s anti-SLAPP statute (John H. Dossett v. Ho Chunk, Inc., et al., No. 3:19-cv-01386, D. Ore., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123596).
PHILADELPHIA — Borrowers can pursue racketeering class claims in a payday lending suit against a tribal entity in lieu of arbitrating the claims because the loans’ requirement that claims be heard in tribal court makes the arbitration provision unenforceable, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 14 in affirming a trial court ruling (Christina Williams, et al. v. Medley Opportunity Fund II, LP, et al., Nos. 19-2058, 19-2082, 3rd Cir.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Native American tribe sued a California county in federal court July 9, alleging that the county is collecting millions of dollars from the tribe’s casino operations through an invalid agreement and not spending all of the money on mitigating the impacts of the casino as it is supposed to (Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians v. Amador County, California, et al., No. 2:20-cv-01383, E.D. Calif.).
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A unanimous Washington Supreme Court listened to its own “moral imperative” to end racism in America and canceled a 104-year-old fishing rights decision by the court against a Native American on July 10 (Washington v. Alec Towessnute, No. 13083-3, Wash. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska Native corporations must wait at least until September to receive the $162.3 million allocated to them in federal coronavirus relief funding so tribes opposed to the allocation can appeal, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled June 7 in staying his decision in favor of the corporations pending an expedited appeal (Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al. v. Steven Mnuchin, No. 1:20-cv-1002, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118734).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Native American environmental group, as well as other advocates for the environment, on July 9 filed a petition in New Mexico federal court contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) when it issued hydraulic fracturing leases in the San Juan Basin near Navajo communities (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-673, D. N.M.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on July 8 said that although the deadline for a Native American tribe to amend its complaint against two water districts has passed, it can amend its remaining claim concerning underground pore space and can assert new grounds for the tribe’s standing (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-883, C.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After deciding earlier in the day in Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma that the size of an Indian tribe’s reservation remains the same for the purpose of federal criminal jurisdiction, the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9 disposed of four other petitions for certiorari filed by convicted criminals in Oklahoma by granting the petitions, vacating and remanding to a state appeals court “for further consideration in light of” McGirt (Patrick Joseph Terry v. Oklahoma, No. 18-8801, Joe Johnson, Jr. v. Oklahoma, No. 18-6098, Travis Wayne Bentley v. Oklahoma, No. 19-5417, Keith Elmo Davis v. Oklahoma, No. 19-6428, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A large part of eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, is still part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation, so the state did not have jurisdiction to prosecute an accused sex offender Native American and his conviction must be overturned so he can be tried in federal court, the U.S. Supreme Court held July 9 in a 5-4 decision (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. — In a win for Native American tribes and conservationists, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 8 affirmed a Montana federal judge’s decision to keep the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear on the Endangered Species List, agreeing that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) exceeded its authority when it delisted the species in 2017 (Crow Indian Tribe, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-36030, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Five Native American tribes on June 15 filed complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California accusing e-cigarette maker Juul and tobacco company Altria of violating federal racketeering laws and creating a public nuisance by targeting tribal youth with deceptive marketing and contributing to a vaping epidemic (Jamestown S'klallam Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3983; Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3984; Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3985; Pala Band of Mission Indians v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3986; Klamath Tribes v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3987, N.D. Calif.).
Seven Native American tribes on June 22 sued the United States in two federal courts, seeking to reinstate the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Navajo Nation v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-602, D. N.M, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20-266, D. Ariz., Tucson).