CHICAGO — The National Defense Authorization Act blocks a woman’s claim that she was fired from her job with an Indian housing authority in retaliation for reporting that her co-workers misappropriated a grant because the grant was awarded before the statute took effect, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 26 (Dawn Marie Delebreau v. Cristina Danforth, et al., No. 18-2332, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33131).
SAN FRANCISCO — Seven members of a California Indian tribe are barred from seeking habeas relief in federal court in a dispute over property rights because they have not yet exhausted remedies available from the tribe, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined Nov. 21 (Ronald Napoles, et al. v. Destin Rogers, et al., No. 17-16620, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32978).
NEW ORLEANS — Four Native American tribes on Nov. 19 asked the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to stay a Texas federal judge’s recent finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) violates the U.S. Constitution, seeking to preserve the status quo pending their appeal (Chad Brackeen, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-11479, 5th Cir).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Blackfeet tribal members challenging a water compact among the tribe, Montana and the United States must take their fight to the tribe’s court, a federal judge decided Nov. 16 in finding no jurisdiction over the dispute (Enrolled Members of the Blackfeet Tribe, et al. v. Thedus Crowe, et al., No. 4:15-cv-92, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195939).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental groups and several Native American tribes on Nov. 15 filed briefs in District of Columbia federal court, arguing that they have standing to oppose the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments, and they argue that the president lacks the authority in the first place (Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2591, D. D.C., The Wilderness Society, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2587, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The solicitor general on Nov. 15 sought leave to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an Indian tribe’s right to hunt under an 1868 treaty in Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest, saying neither Wyoming’s statehood nor the creation of Bighorn trumped the tribe’s treaty right (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — A natural gas company cannot condemn a piece of land in Oklahoma for a pipeline easement because a Native American tribe has an undivided ownership interest in the property, making it tribal land protected by sovereign immunity, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined Nov. 15 (Enable Oklahoma Intrastate Transmission, LLC v. 25 Foot Wide Easement, et al., No. 17-6188, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32367).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe and a drug company are taking their fight to use the tribe’s sovereign immunity to shield it from inter partes review (IPR) of patents to the U.S. Supreme Court, though the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 said it will not stay its opinion affirming the ruling while a certiorari petition runs its course (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, et al. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., Nos. 2018-1638, -1639, -1640, -1641, -1642, -1643, Fed. Cir.).
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A federal judge in South Dakota on Nov. 8 declined to shorten federal prison time for an Indian who assaulted a tribal police officer, finding that his petition for a writ of habeas corpus is barred by statute and by the primary jurisdiction doctrine (United States v. Dwight Thunder Shield, No. 17-cr-50066, D. S.D., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191100).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A woman reached a $21.1 million settlement with the federal government in litigation alleging that health care providers at a Native American medical facility in Alaska misdiagnosed her cellulitis and sepsis as shingles. The lack of appropriate medical care led to the partial amputation of all four of her limbs, the plaintiff’s firm said in a statement on Oct. 23 (Mardi Strong v. United States, No. 13-00165, D. Alaska).
SAN FRANCISCO — After seeking opinions from the United States and California on an Indian tribe’s request to rehear a finding that its online bingo operation is illegal, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 denied the request, leaving unanswered a legal question of first impression the tribe presented in its rehearing petition (California, et al. v. Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, et al., No. 17-55150, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 31580).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 8 declined to rehear its decision that the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA) bars an Arizona Indian tribe from suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans health care funding (Gila River Indian Community, et al. v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, et al., No. 17-15629, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 31790).
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).