Mealey's Native American Law

  • March 16, 2018

    Solicitor General To Participate In High Court Tribal Sovereign Immunity Argument

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on March 16 granted the solicitor general’s motion to participate in oral argument and for divided argument in a case in which it will determine whether the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity protects a Washington state Indian tribe from an in rem adverse possession action to quiet title filed by a couple seeking to keep land that the tribe says it owns (Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Sharline Lundgren, et vir, No. 17-387, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 15, 2018

    Yurok Tribe Files RICO Lawsuit Against 8 Opioid Drug Makers

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Yurok Tribe of Native Americans on March 12 filed an opioid RICO complaint against eight drug manufacturers, alleging that the companies misrepresented the addictive nature of their drugs and are causing a financial and social burden on the tribe (The Yurok Tribe v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 18-1566, N.D. Calif., San Francisco Div.).

  • March 13, 2018

    Interior Secretary Releases $800,000 Under Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement

    BROWNING, Mont. — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on March 9 signed the first authorization of funds for the Blackfeet tribe’s expenditure plan under the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, according to a department press release.

  • March 9, 2018

    Ute Tribe Sues Government Over Ownership, Management Of Reservation Property

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Utah Indian tribe sued the U.S. government March 8 in an attempt to have ownership of land that was taken from its reservation over the years restored to tribal trust ownership and to stop the government from mismanaging the land and profiting on it at the tribe’s expense (Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation v. United States, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00546, D. D.C.).

  • March 8, 2018

    Judge Allows Withdrawal Of Attorneys For Tribe Seeking Recognition

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 5 allowed two attorneys and their law firm to withdraw as counsel for a Native American tribe that sued to force the federal government to recognize it and restore ownership of its native lands (Mission Creek Band of Mission Indians, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 5:16-cv-00569, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36709).

  • March 7, 2018

    Montana State Judge Dissolves Reformed Water Board For Lack Of Election

    POLSON, Mont. — A Montana trial court judge on Jan. 30 ordered that the Flathead Joint Board of Control be dissolved because its members never conducted an election according to state law (Mission Valley Irrigators United, Inc., et al. v. Flathead Joint Board of Control, et al., No. DV-16-106, Mont. Dist., Lake Co.).

  • March 6, 2018

    Lawmaker Tries To Ease Access For Native American Tribes To Grants

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A congressman from Oklahoma who is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation announced March 5 that he introduced a bill that would allow Native American tribes direct access to federal opioid grants and open up the grants to treat all substance abuse disorders.

  • March 6, 2018

    Justices Asked To Decide If Indian Tribes Are Immune From Tort Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Alabama Supreme Court holding that a tribe is not protected by sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash negligence case cannot stand because it goes against years of U.S. Supreme Court guidance, the tribe and its casino authority tell the high court justices in a Feb. 16 petition for a writ of certiorari (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 680).

  • March 5, 2018

    Couple Cannot Avoid Income Levies Based On Language In 2 Treaties, Tax Court Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Tax Court on March 1 awarded the Internal Revenue Service summary judgment on a New York couple’s claims that they do not owe federal tax on their gravel-mining income because the gravel was taken from Indian lands, finding that two treaties do not exempt the couple from paying income taxes (Alice Perkins, et al. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 028215-14, U.S. Tax, 2018 U.S. Tax Ct. LEXIS 6).

  • March 2, 2018

    Tribe Seeks Review Of Ruling That Congress Reduced Size Of Reservation In 1905

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court needs to review a divided 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the size of an Indian reservation in Wyoming was diminished in 1905 by an act of Congress to resolve a conflict among the nation’s top courts over the language needed to clearly show that an Indian reservation has been diminished, a tribe tells the high court in a Feb. 16 petition for a writ of certiorari (Eastern Shoshone Tribe v. Wyoming, et al., No. 17-1164, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 657).

  • March 2, 2018

    Judge Shoots Down Request By Navajo Nation For Head Start Funding Order

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navajo Nation’s bid to receive all of the $23 million plus in school Head Start funding it requested from the federal government for 2018 hit a snag Feb. 28 when a District of Columbia federal judge denied the tribe’s request for a preliminary injunction in favor of deciding the dispute on the merits (The Navajo Nation v. Alex M. Azar II, No. 18-0253, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32700).

  • March 1, 2018

    Arbitration Clauses In Loan Agreement Found Invalid By 3rd Circuit

    PHILADELPHIA — A federal court did not err in denying a bid by a payday lending company associated with an Indian tribe to compel arbitration of a customer’s class action racketeering claims because the tribe has no arbitral forum or consumer protection laws, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 27 (John S. MacDonald v. CashCall, Inc., et al., No. 17-2161, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4795).

  • March 1, 2018

    Question Of Victim’s Indian Status Is For Jurors To Decide, Judge Finds

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Whether an alleged victim of an assault is considered an Indian under federal law is a question to be determined at trial, not through a motion to dismiss, a Montana federal judge ruled Feb. 28 (United States of America v. Edward Anthony Torres, No. 4:18-cr-04, D. Mont., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32719).

  • February 27, 2018

    In A Close Call, Split High Court Affirms Casino Law Does Not Trample Constitution

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress did not violate the Constitution in enacting a law barring any federal lawsuit relating to a Native American casino property because lawmakers were properly exercising their legislative power, not infringing the judicial power, when they passed the statute, the U.S. Supreme Court held Feb. 27 in affirming a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling (David Patchak v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 16-498, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 1515).

  • February 27, 2018

    Patent Board Nixes Tribe’s Sovereign Immunity Defense For Patent Review

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A drugmaker cannot shield its patents from federal review by using an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board held Feb. 23 (Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al. v. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Nos. IPR2016-01127, IPR2016-01128, IPR2016-01129, IPR2016-01130, IPR2016-01131 and IPR2016-01132, U.S. PTAB).

  • February 26, 2018

    Secretary Of Agriculture: Cert Not Warranted For Cy Pres Ruling In Deal With Indians

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court does not need to review challenges to a cy pres provision of a $680 million settlement between Native American farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) because the federal government has adopted a new policy that bars cy pres provisions in settlements with the United States, the secretary of Agriculture says in a Feb. 21 brief in opposition (Marilyn Keepseagle, et al. v. Sonny Perdue, et al., No. 17-807, Keith Mandan v. Sonny Perdue, et al., No. 17-897, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 26, 2018

    Question Of Waiver Snags Tribe’s Dismissal Request For Negligent Care Claims

    TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state Indian tribe cannot yet use sovereign immunity to avoid facing negligent medical care and treatment claims because jurisdictional discovery needs to be conducted to determine whether the tribe waived immunity through its business relationships with private party medical care providers, a federal judge ruled Feb. 21 in denying the tribe’s dismissal bid (The Estate of Jolene Lovelett v. State of Washington, et al., No. 16-5922, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27959).

  • February 21, 2018

    Klamath Tribes File 60-Day Endangered Species Act Notice, Citing Endangered Fish

    CHILOQUIN, Ore. — The Klamath Tribes on Feb. 6 said they sent a 60-day notice of their intent to sue the federal government to prevent the extinction of two fish species in Upper Klamath Lake.

  • February 20, 2018

    Indian Child Welfare Act Case Rejected By High Court Justices

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California couple’s race-based challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after the justices on Feb. 20 denied the petition for a writ of certiorari without comment (Efrim Renteria, et al. v. Superior Court of Tulare County, California, et al., No. 17-789, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 20, 2018

    Supreme Court Orders Wyoming To Pay Montana $20,340 For Excessive Water Take

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 ordered Wyoming to pay Montana $20,340 plus interest for taking 1,356 acre-feet of water from the Tongue River in 2004 and 2006, ending a nearly 11-year-old interstate water dispute before the high court (Montana v. Wyoming, et al., No. 137 Original, U.S. Sup.).