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Mealey's Native American Law

  • September 6, 2018

    Indian Hunter Fires 1st Salvo In Merits Stage Of Treaty Rights Case

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Wyoming court’s finding that an Indian tribe’s right to hunt under an 1868 treaty ends at the border of its reservation must be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court because both parties to the treaty — the tribe and the United States — agree that neither Wyoming’s establishment as a state nor the creation of a national forest extinguished the right to hunt anywhere in the state, a tribal member arrested for killing an elk in the national forest argues in his Sept. 4 brief on the merits (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup.).

  • September 6, 2018

    Foreclosure Auction Ordered; Tribe Allowed To Match Sale Price

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Sept. 5 directed the U.S. government to foreclose on a defaulted property in Indian country and gave a Native American tribe the chance to match the auction purchase price and buy the property (United States v. Linda Racine, et al., No. 4:18-cv-04, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151221).

  • September 5, 2018

    Drug Defendants Narrowly Avoid Remand Of 2 Opioid Cases Filed By Indian Tribes

    CLEVELAND — In a “close call,” the Ohio federal judge overseeing the national opioid multidistrict litigation on Sept. 4 used a “liberal interpretation” of the federal officer removal statute in denying requests by two Native American tribes to remand their cases to state courts (In Re:  National Prescription Opiate Litigation, No. 1:17-md-2804, N.D. Ohio, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150177).

  • September 4, 2018

    California’s Rights Not Trampled By Trust Acquisition For Tribe, Judge Says

    LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Aug. 30 ended a challenge by three California residents to the United States’ taking of 1,400 acres into trust for an Indian tribe by awarding the U.S. government summary judgment on the residents’ illegal taking claims (Lewis P. Geyser, et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 2:17-cv-07315, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149421).

  • September 4, 2018

    6th Circuit Reinstates Tribe’s Claim In ERISA Case Against Blue Cross

    CINCINNATI — While a federal court got most of its decision correct in awarding a Michigan Indian tribe $8.4 million for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s charging of hidden administrative fees for the tribe’s employee benefits program, it erred in dismissing a claim by the tribe that it was illegally forced to pay more than Medicare rates for services, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 30 (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, No. 17-1932, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 24692).

  • August 30, 2018

    California County Attacks United States’ Position On Federal Tribal Recognition

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government misapprehends some rulings and ignores others that show a clear circuit split on the standard for official recognition of Indian tribes, a California county argues to the U.S. Supreme Court Aug. 28 in its fight against the government’s taking of land for a tribe’s planned casino (Amador County, California v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 17-1432, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 30, 2018

    Federal Judge Halts Tribes’ Bid To Intervene Over Long-Held Funds

    TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington tribal group cannot intervene in another tribal group’s suit seeking, in part, funds from the federal government for the uncompensated taking of tribal lands in the 1850s because it waited too long to get involved in the dispute and its intervention would severely prejudice the plaintiff group, a federal judge held Aug. 28 (Chinook Indian Nation, et al. v. Ryan K. Zinke, et al., No. 17-5668, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146569).

  • August 28, 2018

    U.S. Government Says Indian Woman’s Double Jeopardy Case Should Be Held

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. solicitor general on Aug. 27 told the Supreme Court that it should hold a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by an Indian woman challenging her federal manslaughter indictment until it decides another case that presents the same double jeopardy issue (Tawnya Bearcomesout v. United States of America, No. 17-6856, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 28, 2018

    New York Oneidas Lose Suit Over Name Change For Wisconsin Oneidas

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Oneida Indian Nation of New York lacks constitutional standing to sue the Department of the Interior (DOI) over the agency’s decision to allow the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin to change its name to the Oneida Nation, a New York federal judge held Aug. 24 in dismissing the case (Oneida Indian Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. 5:17-cv-913, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144190).

  • August 28, 2018

    Microsoft Takes Aim At Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Patent In New Petition

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A patented server for data processing online via reconfigurable computing elements, such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), would have been obvious to or anticipated by a person of skill in the art, Microsoft Corp. contends in an Aug. 24 petition for inter partes review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Microsoft Corp. v. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, No. IPR2018-01594, PTAB).

  • August 28, 2018

    Judge Denies TRO In Suit Against Sale Of WWII Japanese Camp To Indian Tribe

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on Aug. 27 refused to halt the sale of a small airport that was once part of a World War II Japanese-American segregation center to an Indian tribe but gave the group challenging the sale a chance to refile its request for a temporary restraining order (Tule Lake Committee v. Tulelake, et al., No. 2:18-at-01355, E.D. Calif.).

  • August 24, 2018

    ‘Reasonable’ Options Sink Woman’s Duress Defense For Theft From Tribal Store

    DENVER — A woman cannot use her history of being sexually abused or diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the abuse to avoid her conviction for theft from a tribal business because she had many reasonable options other than stealing to bring money into her home so the abuser would not move back in, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 24 (United States v. Nikolle Denise Dixon, No. 17-7010, 10th Cir.).

  • August 24, 2018

    Group Sues To Block Sale Of WWII Japanese Camp To Indian Tribe

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A group in California dedicated to keeping alive the memory of Japanese Americans interred at a World War II segregation center filed a lawsuit Aug. 21 in federal court to halt the sale of a small airport that was once part of the center to an Indian tribe in Oklahoma, based in part on the tribe’s alleged payday lending schemes (Tule Lake Committee v. Tulelake, et al., No. 2:18-at-01355, E.D. Calif.).

  • August 24, 2018

    Federal Circuit Says Tribe Failed To Show Any Injury To Its Water Rights

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 17 affirmed dismissal of a South Dakota Native American tribe’s water takings claims against the United States, agreeing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that the tribe had not pleaded that it was not getting the water it is entitled to and has suffered no injury (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe v. United States, Fed. Cir., No. 17-2340, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2300).

  • August 22, 2018

    High Court Sets Argument For Long-Running Alaska National Parks Row

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court announced Aug. 20 that it will hear oral arguments Nov. 5 in a dispute over the extent of control the federal government has over land and water in Alaska national parks under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 22, 2018

    Government’s Award To Tribal Member Who Reported Malfeasance Upheld On Appeal

    SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. Department of the Interior decision awarding $650,000 to a tribal member who was removed from the tribe’s governing body after reporting the misuse of federal funds received support from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which affirmed in two opinions Aug. 21 (The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Montana v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 15-71772, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 23310, and Ken St. Marks v. U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 15-71909, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 23417).

  • August 21, 2018

    United States Backs Washington State In Tax Fight With Tribe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 20 set an Oct. 30 argument date for a dispute over whether an 1855 Indian treaty protects a tribe in Washington state from paying state taxes on gasoline it hauls to a reservation, which the United States as amicus curiae answered in the negative on Aug. 16 (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup.).

  • August 17, 2018

    10th Circuit Reverses Water Adjudication Ruling, Siding With 4 New Mexico Tribes

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 15 reversed a district court’s ruling in a New Mexico water adjudication and remanded the case for entry of an order dismissing about 800 objections to a settlement (New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer, et al. v. Nansy Carson, et al., No. 17-2147, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22609).

  • August 17, 2018

    Federal Circuit Finds Merit In Claim That Government Breached USDA Settlement

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A finality provision in a $680 million settlement of Native American farmers’ discrimination claims against the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not bar a class member’s claim that the government breached the agreement by directing workers not to help the class member with his case, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 16 in reversing and remanding (Timothy LaBatte v. United States, No. 17-2396, Fed. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 22848).

  • August 16, 2018

    Veterans’ Judicial Review Act Blocks Tribe’s Suit For Funding, 9th Circuit Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — The provision in the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act giving the secretary of Veterans Affairs the sole authority to decide questions of law relating to veterans’ benefits creates a jurisdictional bar that an Arizona Indian tribe cannot overcome in its quest for federal funding, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 15 (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 22633).