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Mealey's Native American Law

  • September 21, 2018

    Trump Administration: Tribes’ Request Is An ‘Unnecessary Burden’ On Agencies

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump and other federal authorities on Sept. 7 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court, arguing that the Hopi Tribe and other parties have access to “the full array of public notice and other tools regarding activities on public lands” and their new request for information about mining activity on lands formerly designated as national monuments places “an unnecessary burden” on government agencies (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590, D. D.C.).

  • September 21, 2018

    Convicted Tribesman Must Exhaust Tribal Remedies, Judge Finds

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Native American convicted and jailed by his tribe for fraud and larceny must appeal to the tribe before seeking federal habeas relief because he signed a statement of his appeal rights with the tribe, a New Mexico federal judge ruled Sept. 18 in dismissing his petition, but without prejudice (Kenneth Aguilar v. Victor Rodriguez, et al., No. 17-cv-1264, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158655).

  • September 18, 2018

    8th Circuit Vacates Relief To Tribes In Row Over South Dakota Child Services

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — A federal court was wrong to issue declarations and injunctive relief in support of Native American tribes and mothers facing emergency removal of children in South Dakota because it should have abstained and allowed the state courts to adjudicate the claims, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Sept. 14 in a published opinion (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., Nos. 17-1135, 17-1136, 17-1137, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26054).

  • September 17, 2018

    9th Circuit Upholds $8.25 Million Award To Tribes For CERCLA Costs

    SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 14 affirmed a federal court’s finding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a polluter of the Columbia River for enforcement actions taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Joseph A. Pakootas, et al. v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., No. 16-35742, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26098).

  • September 14, 2018

    Trump Administration: Methane Fracking Appeal ‘Moot’; Rule Will Be Replaced

    DENVER — The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on Sept. 12 filed a brief in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that a case brought by the state of Wyoming challenging the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with regard to hydraulic fracturing operations is “prudentially moot” because it is a challenge to an order that pertains to a regulation that will “imminently be replaced” (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., 18-8027, 10th Cir.).

  • September 13, 2018

    Interlocutory Appeal OK’d To Decide If Tribes’ Water Rights Were Snuffed By Spain

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 11 sent the “first impression” question of whether three Native American tribes’ aboriginal water rights were extinguished merely by the imposition of Spanish authority and without any affirmative act to the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to answer (United States, et al. v. Tom Abousleman, et al., No. 6:83-cv-1041, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155413).

  • September 13, 2018

    New York’s Tribal Cigarette Tax Ruling Heads To High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court intervention is needed to correct a New York appeals court’s decision allowing the state to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on an Indian reservation to nontribal members because the ruling goes against state law and an 1842 treaty, a tribal member with a cigarette sales business tells the high court in a Sept. 4 petition for certiorari (Eric White, et al. v. Barbara D. Underwood, et al., No. 18-297, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3252).

  • September 12, 2018

    Judge Says Compact Amendment Violates Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 10 shot down on summary judgment a Wisconsin Indian tribe’s attempt to have the federal government approve a gaming compact amendment that would guarantee compensation to the tribe for any lost revenue caused by the opening of another tribe’s nearby casino (Forest County Potawatomi Community v. United States, et al., No. 15-105, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153333).

  • September 11, 2018

    Tribes Sue To Stop Keystone Pipeline Over Lack Of Impact Studies

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Two Native American tribes sued the U.S. government Sept. 10 in Montana federal court to halt construction of a crude oil pipeline across the United States, saying officials approved the project at the direction of President Trump without conducting required environmental and historical studies (Rosebud Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Department of State, et al., No. 4:18-cv-00118, D. Mont.).

  • September 10, 2018

    Arbitration Spat Over Casino Tax Not Cert Worthy, Oklahoma Tells Justices

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court review is not needed for a ruling vacating an arbitration award in favor of an Oklahoma Indian tribe in a dispute with the state over a drink tax at tribal casinos because the decision is fact-specific and presents no court conflicts, Oklahoma argues in a Sept. 10 response filed at the request of the high court (Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. Oklahoma, No. 17-1624, U.S. Sup.).

  • September 7, 2018

    Unrecognized Tribe Has No Right To Sell Hunting, Fishing Tags, Judge Rules

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah federal judge on Sept. 5 issued a declaration that an unofficial “mixed-blood” Indian tribe does not have the authority to sell hunting and fishing licenses but stopped short of granting the U.S. government’s request for a permanent injunction barring the sales (United States v. Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe, et al., No. 2:17-cv-1140, D. Utah, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151592).

  • September 7, 2018

    Contempt Unproven In Tribes’ Fishing Grounds Row, Federal Judge Rules

    SEATTLE — A Native American tribe cannot have another tribe sanctioned in a fishing rights dispute because it failed to reach the high bar for a finding of civil contempt, a Washington federal judge held Sept. 5 (United States, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 70-9213, Subproceeding No. 2:17-sp-03, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151249).

  • 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.).