ST. PAUL, Minn. — A tribal court lacks jurisdiction over declaratory and injunctive relief claims filed by oil and gas companies seeking to halt the tribal court and tribal members from prosecuting the members’ lease royalty claims against them, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Aug. 5 (Kodiak Oil & Gas [USA] Inc., et al. v. Jolene Burr, et al., Nos. 18-1824, 18-1856, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23368).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 1 upheld a man’s conviction for domestic assault and witness tampering after finding that there was enough evidence presented at trial to prove that he assaulted his Indian girlfriend after being convicted of six prior assaults (United States v. Alexander James Oka, No. 18-2315, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23017).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on July 31 declared the Oneida Indian Nation the rightful owner of a 19-acre parcel in the state, invalidated a tribal member’s quitclaim deed for the property and ordered the member to never again claim the land for himself (Oneida Indian Nation v. Melvin L. Phillips, Sr., et al., No. 5:17-cv-1035, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127476).
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Supreme Court should take up the case of a former tribal administrator, who says a California tribal court cannot hear the tribe’s fraud claims against her for lack of due process, so the justices can decide once and for all the reach of Native American courts over non-Indians, the ex-administrator says in a July 23 petition for certiorari (Duanna Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians, et al., No. 19-131, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2772).
ST. LOUIS — A divided Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 31vacated an injunction enjoining North Dakota from implementing its new voter ID regulations after the majority found that “the alleged burdens” on Native American voters “do not justify a statewide injunction” (Richard Brakebill, et al. v. Alvin Jaeger, No. 18-1725, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22766).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California Indian tribe joined two commercial fishing groups July 31 in suing federal agencies over their finding in a recent study and biological opinion that future water withdrawals from the Klamath River will not jeopardize the recover and survival of salmon and killer whale populations (Yurok Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, et al., No. 3:19-cv-04405, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tribal-owned cigarette company sued the U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in District of Columbia federal court July 24 seeking a permanent injunction and enforcement of a purported settlement agreement that would maintain its permit to manufacture tobacco products (Azuma Corp. v. United States Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco and Tax Trade Bureau, et al., No. 1:19-cv-02209, D. D.C.).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge on July 30 declined to reconsider her decision to allow a Native American tribe’s claim against its health care plan administrator under the state’s Health Care False Claims Act (HCFCA) to proceed, finding that the administrator “does not identify a palpable defect in the Court’s opinion denying its motion to dismiss” (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan v. Munson Medical Center, No. 5:14-cv-11349, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126780).
PHOENIX — Tribal and conservation groups cannot challenge the federal government’s approvals of coal mining activities by an Indian company on Indian land because the company cannot be joined to the action as an indispensable party due to its sovereign immunity as an arm of the tribe, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined July 29 (Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, et al., No. 17-17320, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22407).
TULSA, Okla. — The Trump administration on July 26 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that none of the claims raised by Native Americans who oppose federal permits for hydraulic fracturing on tribal land has merit and that their claim that the administration violated federal law should be denied (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, et al. v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 16-cv-697, N.D. Okla.).
MANOA, Hawaii — Guam cannot hold an election for only “Native Inhabitants of Guam” to get their opinions on their future political relationship with the United States because doing so would violate the Constitution, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 29 (Arnold Davis v. Guam, et al., No. 17-15719, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22408).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A New Mexico lawmaker on July 25 introduced a bill “to bolster efforts to address the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis” in the United States.
COVINGTON, Ky. — The Washington Post did not defame a Kentucky teenager who was the subject of a viral video of him wearing a MAGA hat confronting a Native American on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial because the statements the newspaper made in several stories and tweets about the incident contained only opinions from those who were there, a Kentucky federal judge held July 26 in dismissing the teen’s $250 million lawsuit (Nicholas Sandmann v. WP Company LLC, d/b/a The Washington Post, No. 2:19-cv-00019, E.D. Ky., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125275).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — South Dakota’s process for removing Indian children from their homes in emergency situations is inadequate to provide parents and children with their due process rights, two tribes and tribal members tell the U.S. Supreme Court in their July 22 reply in support of their petition for a writ of certiorari (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., No. 18-1245, U.S. Sup.).
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin Indian tribe sued oil companies July 23 seeking the removal of a pipeline across the tribe’s reservation, saying easements for the pipeline have expired and its location presents an ongoing threat of an oil spill and “environmental catastrophe” (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians of the Bad River Reservation v. Enbridge, Inc., et al., No. 3:19-cv-602, W.D. Wis.).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A woman who formerly worked for an Indian casino cannot sue the casino for employment discrimination because, as an arm of a federally recognized Indian tribe, the casino is not an “employer” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a New York federal magistrate judge ruled July 24 (Lucinda A. Johnson v. Oneida Nation Enterprise, LLC, No. 5:19-cv-853, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123154).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A farming couple cannot hold the United States liable for the termination of their leases on Indian land by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), but they may have a remedy with the BIA through the administrative appeals process, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 24 (Vernon Moody, et al. v. United States, No. 18-2227, Fed. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22038).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The United States on July 16 asked a California federal judge to reconsider his ruling that a Native American tribe lacks standing to assert a claim for quantification of how much groundwater it has a right to or to assert that the water must be of a certain quality (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, et al. v. Coachella Valley Water District, et al., No. 13-883, C.D. Calif.).
TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge in Oklahoma on July 23 remanded to state court a class action against oil companies regarding earthquake damage allegedly caused by hydraulic fracturing operations, ruling that the local exception requirement to federal class action law had been met (James Adams v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al., No. 18-568, N.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122424).
SEATTLE — A railway and a Washington Indian tribe recently responded to a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ order directing the railway to explain some of the wording it used in its briefing on appeal in a dispute over a rail easement on a reservation, specifically passages that use “language about which the panel is particularly concerned” (Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 18-35704, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 21261).