SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 10 upheld a Washington federal judge’s grant of summary judgment to the Department of the Interior (DOI) on tribal council election challenges by four unsuccessful candidates, finding in an unpublished memorandum that the DOI “did not violate an enforceable agency rule or requirement.”
PIERRE, S.D. — A South Dakota tribe’s two courts and the chief judges of the courts on Feb. 26 filed a motion in federal court to dismiss a petition for a writ of habeas corpus sought by two fathers who say the tribe has no jurisdiction in the dispute and should be forced to abide by state custody orders so the children can be removed from the reservation.
EUGENE, Ore. — Although an Oregon federal judge on March 8 refused to release a tribal member convicted of a firearms offense from prison due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she recommended that the Bureau of Prisons place the man on home confinement under regulations adopted in last year’s coronavirus federal relief act.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A small Oklahoma Indian tribe sued the Department of the Interior (DOI) March 5 in District of Columbia federal court seeking a declaration that the tribe is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and beneficiary of an 1833 Creek treaty that gives it shared jurisdiction over the vast Creek reservation, saying the government should be forced to recognize that the tribe “enjoys all full treaty-guaranteed rights.”
POCATELLO, Idaho — An Idaho federal court on March 5 consolidated lawsuits filed by Indian tribes and the United States seeking approval of a more than $330,000 settlement with a subsidiary of Monsanto Co. for cleanup of an open-pit phosphate mine and response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
SAN FRANCISCO — A two-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 13 issued an order expediting the appeal of a Native American group that advocates for “a balanced Earth,” which seeks an injunction to prevent hydraulic fracturing activities in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s North Slope.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the question of whether an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity shields it from a municipality’s attempt to foreclose on the tribe’s land for not paying property taxes continuing to crop up in the federal courts, it’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and rule that tribes are not saved from avoiding foreclosure by their immunity, a New York county tells the high court in a Feb. 17 petition for a writ of certiorari.
CINCINNATI — Because a woman failed to challenge a delegation clause in an arbitration agreement she signed when she accepted a payday loan from a businessman linked to an Indian tribe, the court hearing her racketeering suit against the businessman should not have denied his motion to stay the case in favor of arbitration, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 4 in reversing and remanding.
SPOKANE, Wash. — An Indian sentenced to spend time in a tribal prison for domestic assault-related convictions lost his chance for habeas relief on Feb. 26 when a Washington federal judge found that his cumulative sentence of more than a year in jail did not violate the Tribal Law and Order Act, and he failed to exhaust his tribal remedies on his challenge to long-term confinement in the tribe’s prison.
PHOENIX — A Native American teen and her father lost their bid to collect damages from an Arizona school district for not allowing the teen to attend her high school graduation with an eagle feather plume and traditional beads on her cap when a federal magistrate judge on March 1 dismissed their civil rights claims for failure to state plausible allegations.
SAN FRANCISCO — The United States’ transfer of sacred Indian land in Arizona for development of a copper mine will probably be delayed now that the government has withdrawn its environmental study and approval of the project in favor of more robust involvement from Native American tribes, government appellees say in a March 1 brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opposing injunctive relief to halt the project.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 halted briefing on the federal government’s appeal of a court injunction extending the 2020 census deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic after the parties said a “negotiated resolution” or the reporting of the census results to the president could happen soon, making further briefing unnecessary.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court need not concern itself with a Washington Indian tribe’s challenge to a police jurisdiction ruling because the tribe presents no compelling reason to grant its petition, a county and city in the state say in a Feb. 26 response filed at the request of the high court.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge in Alaska on Feb. 25 refused to set aside a five-year-old default judgment enjoining three former tribal council members from misrepresenting that they were the legitimate governing body of the tribe, finding that the tribe’s allegations of fraudulently seeking federal tribal funding established the court’s jurisdiction.
BOSTON — A Massachusetts Indian tribe cannot challenge on appeal a federal court’s determination that its plan to construct a gambling hall is subject to a town’s building permit regulations because the tribe failed to raise the issue in a previous appeal, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 25, affirming the trial court’s entry of judgment.
BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota federal magistrate judge on Feb. 22 recommended granting summary judgment to the Department of the Interior (DOI) and an energy development company on an Indian tribe’s claims that the federal government acted arbitrarily in issuing permits for a hydraulic fracturing drilling project.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) filed their opening merits briefs Feb. 22 in two consolidated U.S. Supreme Court cases in which the court will decide whether the ANCs are considered tribal governments entitled to receive $162.3 million from last year’s federal COVID-19 relief funding package.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The question of whether the federal government can take land into trust for a Massachusetts Indian tribe is back in the hands of the federal government after it dropped its appeal on Feb. 19 of a District of Columbia federal judge’s ruling remanding the dispute to the Department of the Interior (DOI) for a “thorough reconsideration and re-evaluation of the evidence.”
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 22 found no error and affirmed a federal court’s confirmation of an arbitration award under which the Seneca Nation of Indians must pay New York nearly $256 million in back payments for the state’s share of the tribe’s gambling revenue.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court wants to hear what the federal government thinks about a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision subjecting a Texas Indian tribe to the state’s gaming laws despite the tribe’s sovereignty, with the high court on Feb. 22 inviting the acting solicitor general to file a brief in the case.