Mealey's Native American Law

  • August 06, 2019

    Tribe:  Delay In Objecting To Fracking Pipeline Valid Based On Federal Regulations

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe on Aug. 2 filed a brief in the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals contending that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s argument that the tribe should have intervened earlier in its objection to the construction of a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured gas across tribal lands is not valid because FERC’s own regulations required it to engage in off-the-record negotiations first (Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 19-1009, D.C. Cir.).

  • August 06, 2019

    8th Circuit Affirms Injunction Barring Tribal Court Claims Against Gas Companies

    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).

  • August 02, 2019

    Convictions For Domestic Assault On Indian Reservation Affirmed By 8th Circuit

    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).

  • August 02, 2019

    Judge Decides Oneida Land Dispute With Member In Favor Of Tribe

    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).

  • August 02, 2019

    Petitioner: Ruling Needed On Tribal Court Jurisdiction Over Nonmembers

    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).

  • August 01, 2019

    8th Circuit Kills Injunction Enjoining North Dakota’s New Voter ID Requirements

    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).

  • August 01, 2019

    Suit By Tribe, Fishermen Seeks Reassessment Of Water Project’s Effects On Fish

    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.).

  • July 31, 2019

    California Tribe: Federal Agency Illegally Reneged On Tobacco-Related Settlement

    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.).

  • July 31, 2019

    Judge Denies Reconsideration For Tribe’s Michigan Law Claim Against Blue Cross

    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).

  • July 30, 2019

    Indian Coal Company Protected From Suit, So Groups’ Claims Fail, 9th Circuit Says

    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).

  • July 30, 2019

    Trump Administration:  Tribe’s Opposition To Fracking Permits ‘Has No Merit’

    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.).

  • July 30, 2019

    Self-Determination Election For Only Guam Natives Is Unconstitutional, Panel Rules

    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).

  • July 29, 2019

    New House Bill Aimed At Halting Violence Against Native American Women

    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.

  • July 29, 2019

    Teen’s Suit Against Washington Post Over MAGA Viral Video Dismissed By Judge

    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).

  • July 29, 2019

    Tribes: Review Needed To Cure Lack Of Due Process In South Dakota Child Services

    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.).

  • July 29, 2019

    Wisconsin Tribe Sues Oil Companies To Have Pipeline Removed From Reservation

    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.).

  • July 26, 2019

    Former Worker Barred From Suing Indian Casino Under Title VII, Magistrate Says

    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).

  • July 25, 2019

    Farmers Lose Challenge In Federal Circuit To BIA’s Voiding Of Reservation Leases

    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).

  • July 24, 2019

    United States Asks Court To Reconsider Ruling On Tribe’s Groundwater Rights

    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.).

  • July 24, 2019

    Judge:  Local Exception Valid, Fracking Earthquake Case Belongs In State Court

    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).

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