Mealey's Native American Law

  • December 01, 2023

    Tribal Panel: Court Lacks Jurisdiction To Decide If Prisoners Are ‘Indian Persons’

    POPLAR, Mont. — Whether two defendants currently being detained by the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe of the Fort Peck Reservation are “Indian persons” and thus subject to the Fort Peck Tribal Court’s criminal jurisdiction is a factual issue that must be determined by the trier of fact, a Fort Peck Court of Appeals panel found in staying consideration of the two defendants’ petitions for writ of habeas corpus.

  • December 01, 2023

    Tribal Appellate Court: Trial Court Did Not Err In Issuing Custody Order

    POPLAR, Mont. — A Fort Peck Court of Appeals panel of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes found that a trial court did not err in granting physical custody to the father of a child who allegedly has a history of drug abuse and domestic violence because the trial court’s decision was supported by sufficient factual findings.

  • December 01, 2023

    Tribal Appellate Court Vacates Criminal Conviction Based On Hearsay Evidence

    POPLAR, Mont. — The Fort Peck Court of Appeals of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes vacated a man’s theft and burglary conviction because the tribes’ prosecution was based “almost entirely” on hearsay testimony consisting of a Facebook post and a previously recorded interview with a woman who was not available for cross-examination at trial.

  • November 27, 2023

    Golf Course Is Arm Of Tribe, Entitled To Tribal Immunity, Washington Panel Finds

    SEATTLE — A company that owns and operates a golf course is entitled to sovereign immunity from a personal injury suit brought by a man who was injured on the course because the company is an arm of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, a Washington panel found in affirming a trial court’s judgment dismissing the case.

  • November 27, 2023

    Montana Federal Judge Grants Prisoners’ Habeas Corpus Petition Against Tribe

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A man sentenced to more than a year in prison by the courts of the Blackfeet Nation was denied effective assistance of counsel because the tribe sentenced him without the presence of counsel, a Montana federal judge found in granting the man’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

  • November 27, 2023

    United States Urges Supreme Court To Deny Review Of Klamath Water Suit Removal

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States says the U.S. Supreme Court should deny a certiorari petition in which the Klamath Irrigation District seeks a writ of mandate to remand to state court its lawsuit asserting primary jurisdiction over the Bureau of Reclamation’s operation of the Kalmath Project and minimum water levels to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to benefit two Native American tribes.

  • November 20, 2023

    Supreme Court Grants Cert For Funding Dispute Between Tribes, HHS

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 20 granted two petitions for certiorari filed by the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine whether the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) requires the Indian Health Service (IHS) to pay “contract support costs” for expenditures of income collected by Indian tribes from third parties under federal self-determination contracts.

  • November 14, 2023

    Michigan Federal Judge Adopts Recommendation, Dismisses Claims Against Tribal Judge

    MARQUETTE, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge adopted a report and recommendation in which a magistrate judge found that claims of due process and equal protection violations brought by a tribal lay advocate against a tribal judge and an attorney for allegedly conspiring against the advocate by not providing him notice of a tribal court hearing fail because the tribal judge has immunity and the attorney is not a state actor.

  • November 14, 2023

    Proposed Consent Decree Filed In Native American Bias Case Against S.D. Hotel

    RAPID CITY, S.D. — In South Dakota federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and owners and managers of a hotel jointly filed a proposed consent decree that would resolve the DOJ’s claims that the owners and managers violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against Native Americans.

  • November 14, 2023

    D.C. Federal Judge: Tribe Seeking Recognition Failed To Identify Final Action

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe in Connecticut seeking federal acknowledgement failed to identify a reviewable final agency decision in its complaint brought against the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Federal Acknowledgement (OFA), a District of Columbia federal judge found in granting the OFA’s motion to dismiss.

  • November 13, 2023

    In Tribal Land Pipeline Dispute, N.D. Federal Judge Severs Trespass Counterclaim

    BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota federal judge severed and stayed a counterclaim brought by the United States against the owner and operator of an oil and gas pipeline that formerly operated on tribal land but no longer maintains proper rights of way because the claim was “of a separate nature” than the company’s administrative law claims.

  • November 10, 2023

    Judge Dismisses With Prejudice Groups’ Challenges To Willow Project Approval

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge in Alaska on Nov. 9 dismissed with prejudice all claims brought by environmental groups and Native Americans who oppose the Willow Project, a hydraulic fracturing operation in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, ruling that federal agencies were not “arbitrary and capricious” in reaching the conclusion that the project should be approved.

  • November 10, 2023

    Panel: N.D. Legislature Had Good Reason To Create Native American Subdistricts

    BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s Legislative Assembly did not violate the equal protection rights of two men who said the state’s 2021 voter redistricting created two racially gerrymandered subdistricts that favored Native Americans because the state had good reason to believe that the Native American tribes in those areas would have claims under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) if the subdistricts weren’t drawn that way, a panel of three federal judges found in disposing of three motions for summary judgment.

  • November 09, 2023

    Tribal Appellate Court Declines To Consider Motion Not Raised Before Trial Court

    POPLAR, Mont. — The Fort Peck Court of Appeals of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes refused to consider a motion regarding whether a pro se defendant was competent enough to represent himself in a criminal case where he was found guilty because the motion was filed in the trial court after the appeal.

  • November 09, 2023

    1st Circuit: Taking Tribal Land Into Trust Was Not Arbitrary Or Capricious

    BOSTON — A U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) decision to take into trust land owned by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe was not arbitrary or capricious or not in accordance with the law because the tribe meets the definition of “Indian” for the purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming a trial court’s decision.

  • November 09, 2023

    California, Tribe Agree That State Negotiated Gaming Compact In Bad Faith

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge granted a stipulation filed by California and an Indian tribe in which they said the state failed to negotiate a gaming compact in good faith under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by bringing up topics of family, environmental and tort law.

  • November 07, 2023

    Judge Dismisses Tribal Members’ Challenge Of Crow Water Rights Settlement

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge has dismissed on the merits a complaint by several Montana Native Americans alleging that a tribal water rights settlement agreement and enacting legislation deprive them of their senior water rights and devalue their properties.

  • November 07, 2023

    Amici Tell 10th Circuit Biden Exceeded Authority With National Monuments Decision

    DENVER — On Nov. 6, multiple parties filed amicus curiae briefs in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of Utah and two counties that have appealed the ruling of a lower court on grounds that that court erred when it dismissed the state and counties’ claims against the Biden administration for its decision to reinstate the dimensions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments because the action exceeded the scope of the Antiquities Act.

  • November 02, 2023

    Alaska Native Corporation Is Not An ‘Employer’ Under Title VII, Federal Judge Says

    BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A former employee of an Alaska Native corporation who says she was discriminated against by the company failed to state her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because such corporations are expressly excluded from the statute, a Texas federal judge found in adopting a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation.

  • November 02, 2023

    10th Circuit: Prisoner Who Said He Is Not Native American Not Entitled To Appeal

    DENVER — A prisoner who argued that Oklahoma had no criminal jurisdiction over him because he was a Native American is not entitled to a certificate of appealability for the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus because he later admitted that he is not a Native American, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found.

  • November 02, 2023

    Oil Company Agrees To Pay $16 Million To Resolve Alleged Royalty Underpayments

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs in a Nov. 1 press release announced that a natural gas company has agreed to pay the United States $16 million in exchange for resolution of allegations that the company underpaid royalties it owed to the United States pursuant to federal and Native American land leases under which it produces natural gas.

  • November 02, 2023

    Tribal Officers And Judges Are Entitled To Immunity In Dispute Over Child Custody

    SPOKANE, Wash. — Members of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and several Yakama Nation judges are entitled to either sovereign immunity or absolute immunity from claims brought by a man who alleged that his rights were violated by the individuals after a tribal judge granted custody of his children to his partner, a Washington federal judge ruled in granting the members and judges’ motion to dismiss.

  • November 02, 2023

    Supreme Court Won’t Review 9th Circuit Decision On Water Rights Adjudications

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court denied an Oregon water district’s petition for a writ of certiorari in which it asked the court to reverse a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that it said gives two Native American tribes “veto” power over state water rights adjudications in the Klamath Basin.

  • October 31, 2023

    Utah Tells 10th Circuit Biden Exceeded Authority With National Monuments Order

    DENVER — Utah and two counties on Oct. 30 filed an opening appellant brief in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that a lower court erred when it dismissed their claims against the Biden administration for its decision to reinstate the dimensions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments because the action exceeded the scope of the Antiquities Act.

  • October 30, 2023

    Judge Nixes Lease Dispute, Says Plaintiff Did Not Exhaust Administrative Remedies

    BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge in North Dakota has dismissed an oil and gas lease dispute against federal agencies and an energy company and has ruled that a hydraulic fracturing operator’s motion to dismiss is moot in a lawsuit regarding a mineral leasehold interest located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, concluding that the plaintiff must exhaust administrative remedies before bringing suit in federal court.