ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Native American environmental group, as well as other advocates for the environment, on July 9 filed a petition in New Mexico federal court contending that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) when it issued hydraulic fracturing leases in the San Juan Basin near Navajo communities (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-673, D. N.M.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After deciding earlier in the day in Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma that the size of an Indian tribe’s reservation remains the same for the purpose of federal criminal jurisdiction, the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9 disposed of four other petitions for certiorari filed by convicted criminals in Oklahoma by granting the petitions, vacating and remanding to a state appeals court “for further consideration in light of” McGirt (Patrick Joseph Terry v. Oklahoma, No. 18-8801, Joe Johnson, Jr. v. Oklahoma, No. 18-6098, Travis Wayne Bentley v. Oklahoma, No. 19-5417, Keith Elmo Davis v. Oklahoma, No. 19-6428, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A large part of eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, is still part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation, so the state did not have jurisdiction to prosecute an accused sex offender Native American and his conviction must be overturned so he can be tried in federal court, the U.S. Supreme Court held July 9 in a 5-4 decision (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. — In a win for Native American tribes and conservationists, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 8 affirmed a Montana federal judge’s decision to keep the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear on the Endangered Species List, agreeing that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) exceeded its authority when it delisted the species in 2017 (Crow Indian Tribe, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-36030, 9th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Five Native American tribes on June 15 filed complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California accusing e-cigarette maker Juul and tobacco company Altria of violating federal racketeering laws and creating a public nuisance by targeting tribal youth with deceptive marketing and contributing to a vaping epidemic (Jamestown S'klallam Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3983; Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3984; Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3985; Pala Band of Mission Indians v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3986; Klamath Tribes v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., No. 20-3987, N.D. Calif.).
Seven Native American tribes on June 22 sued the United States in two federal courts, seeking to reinstate the 2015 Clean Water Rule (Navajo Nation v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-602, D. N.M, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20-266, D. Ariz., Tucson).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on July 6 shut down the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), saying the “significant disruption” the shutdown will cause is outweighed by the “seriousness” of the federal government’s lack of response to Indian tribes’ concerns about the pipeline’s location and operation, so “the flow of oil must cease” (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 16-1534, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117866).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court guidance is required to cure a conflict among the courts created when a California appeals court incorrectly held that the state has personal jurisdiction to regulate the sale of cigarettes by an Indian tobacco company in California, the company argues in its June 23 reply brief (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
PHOENIX — On remand, an Arizona appeals court on June 30 affirmed the award of attorney fees to a city and a ski resort operator in their long-running battle with a Native American tribe over the resort’s use of the city’s treated sewage water to make snow (Hopi Tribe v. Arizona Snowbowl Resort Limited Partnership, et al., No. 1 CA-CV 16-0521, Ariz. App. Div. 1).
SAN FRANCISCO — Washington state and local police have criminal jurisdiction over members of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation who commit crimes on reservation land, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held June 29 after interpreting a 2014 state proclamation retroceding jurisdiction over some crimes to the United States (Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. Yakima County, et al., No. 19-35199, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A court challenge by tribal and environmental groups to a Navajo Nation coal mining operation is over, with the tribal mining company’s sovereign immunity intact, after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29 declined to review the case (Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, et al., No. 19-1166, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 29 let stand the fraud and racketeering convictions of a Pennsylvania man for his role in a payday lending scheme involving Native American tribes with its second denial of certiorari from the criminal case (Charles M. Hallinan v. United States, No. 19-1087, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court wants to know the federal government’s opinion on whether a consolidated Indian tribe in Idaho has jurisdiction to collect fees from a company to store hazardous waste at a Superfund site on tribal land, with the court on June 29 asking the solicitor general to brief the issue (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A trial court wrongly stacked one inference atop another in declining to extend tribal sovereign immunity protection to a board member of a Seminole corporation, a Florida appeals court held June 24 in granting the official’s certiorari petition, finding that he is entitled to the same sovereign immunity that the other tribal officials in the case received (Larry Howard v. MMMG, LLC, et al., Nos. 4D19-3538, 4D19-3539, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Michigan Indian tribe can continue with its quest for federal recognition after the U.S. Department of Justice on June 24 dropped its appeal in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of a federal judge’s ruling sending the tribe’s bid to re-petition for recognition back to the Department of the Interior (DOI) (Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 20-5152, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government on June 19 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the extent of an Indian police officer’s jurisdiction to detain a non-Indian on a public road within a reservation, arguing that a ruling on the issue by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals treads on tribes’ sovereign immunity and hampers law enforcement efforts (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 19-1414, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court intervention is needed to resolve a conflict between Oklahoma and other states on the enforcement of property tax laws on non-Indian owned property leased to tribal casinos, the Tulsa County tax assessor says in a June 18 amicus curiae high court brief (Rogers County Board of Tax Roll Corrections, et al. v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc., No. 19-1298, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 22 declined to review a long-running dispute between farmers and Native American tribes over the rights to Klamath River water, letting stand a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals victory for the tribes and the fish populations they sought to protect (Lonny E. Baley, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 19-1134, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A decision by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to take 76 acres of land into trust for a band of the Cherokee Nation will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 22 denied certiorari in the nation’s challenge to the ruling, which was upheld by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-937, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal court did not have jurisdiction to issue rulings in a dispute between warring factions of a Nevada Indian tribe because there was no final action by a federal agency for the court to review, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals determined June 15 (Winnemucca Indian Colony, et al. v. United States, ex rel. Department of the Interior, et al., No. 18-17121, 9th Cir.).