Mealey's Native American Law

  • May 16, 2024

    Secretary Of Interior Tells U.S. Supreme Court Tribal Sports Gambling Is Valid

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a response to a petition for a writ of certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by two casino operators who argue that a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida unlawfully allows the tribe to offer sports betting, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland says Florida had the independent authority to grant the tribe such rights in the compact.

  • May 15, 2024

    Navajo Nation, Contractor Voluntarily Dismiss Gold King Mine Claims After Settlement

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In New Mexico federal court, a government contractor and the Navajo Nation filed a joint stipulation to dismiss the tribe’s claims arising from the contractor’s alleged involvement in the release of hazardous substances from the Gold King Mine, which contaminated large portions of tribal land.

  • May 14, 2024

    ACLU, NetChoice, Tribes File Briefs Opposing Montana TikTok Ban

    SAN FRANCISCO — Nonprofit civil liberties organizations, an online business trade association and a Native American tribe are among those that filed nine amicus curiae briefs in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opposing a presently enjoined Montana law that would ban the TikTok social network within the state, raising arguments of federal jurisdiction, free speech rights and tribal sovereignty.

  • May 14, 2024

    Casino Operator Does Not Enjoy Tribal Immunity In Employment Discrimination Case

    PHOENIX — A company that manages a tribal casino is not entitled to tribal sovereign immunity from claims of discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination brought by five former employees who were terminated after allegedly colluding with cheating gamblers on electronic craps games because the company is not an arm of the tribe, an Arizona federal judge held in denying the company’s motion to dismiss.

  • May 09, 2024

    10th Circuit: Federal Criminal Jurisdiction Exists On Pueblo Of Santa Clara Land

    DENVER — A federal trial court did not err in denying a non-Indian man’s motion to dismiss a second-degree murder charge against him for lack of jurisdiction because federal criminal jurisdiction exists on the Pueblo of Santa Clara land where the crime was committed as it is considered Indian country for the purposes of the Major Crimes Act (MCA), a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in affirming the trial court’s judgment.

  • May 07, 2024

    Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Panel Affirms Grant Of Personal Protection Order

    SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — A man who appealed the grant of a personal protection order (PPO) against him and in favor of his former girlfriend failed to explain why he did not appear at the hearing on the matter, a panel of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Court of Appeals found in affirming the tribal trial court’s decision to grant the PPO.

  • May 07, 2024

    Federal Circuit Remands Tribe’s Water Management Claim Against United States

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Circuit remanded for further proceedings claims by the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation that a 1906 federal law imposes trust duties on the United States to manage existing water infrastructure.

  • May 06, 2024

    Defense Contract Secrets Claims Can’t Be Heard In Tribal Court As It May Not Exist

    ATLANTA — A trial court erred in applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens when dismissing breach of contract claims brought by a tribal corporation against a woman who allegedly stole trade secrets from her former employer relating to a federal contract to provide armed security services on a semi-submersible missile defense vessel because the alternative forum, the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town Court, might not exist, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in reversing and remanding the trial court’s judgment.

  • May 06, 2024

    Alaska Supreme Court Follows Circuit Courts, Adopts New Arm-Of-The-Tribe Test

    JUNEAU, Alaska — Looking to the 10th, Ninth and Fourth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals for guidance, the majority of the Alaska Supreme Court adopted a new multifactor test for determining whether a corporation is entitled to tribal sovereign immunity as an “arm of the tribe” it’s affiliated with and ruled that a woman’s employment claims were barred by such immunity against an intertribal consortium that provides health care services.

  • May 03, 2024

    Government Failed To Honor Native American Fracking Rights, Plaintiffs Say

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Native Americans who have been engaged in a long-running land dispute with the U.S. government regarding alleged mismanagement of oil and natural gas resources in the Bakken Shale formation, including claims that the government has withheld payments owed to the plaintiffs, have filed a post-trial reply brief in federal court arguing that the government’s case is “another example of Defendant’s failure to honor a trust doctrine that ‘is one of the cornerstones of Indian law.”

  • May 03, 2024

    South Dakota Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Tribe’s Overcollection Claim

    PIERRE, S.D. — The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe’s claim that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) overcollected money in an attempt to balance revenue after the tribe inappropriately allocated federal funds from a self-determination contract is not barred by federal sovereign immunity because it was raised within the one-year waiver period given to such claims, a South Dakota federal judge found in refusing to dismiss the tribe’s claim.

  • May 03, 2024

    Tribes And Citizen Groups Fail To Stop Powerline With Preliminary Injunction

    TUCSON, Ariz. — Two federally recognized Indian tribes and two citizen groups are not entitled to a preliminary injunction that would stop the construction of a powerline project in an area of cultural importance, Arizona’s San Pedro Valley, because they failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits, an Arizona federal judge found in denying their motion for an injunction.

  • May 01, 2024

    19th-Century Treaties Do Not Create Monetary Claims For Tribal Members, Panel Says

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In affirming a judgment by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found that members of the Cherokee Nation currently incarcerated in the Oklahoma state prison system are not entitled to compensation from the United States for unlawful imprisonment because the two 19th-century treaties they cite do not create such a right in the Claims Court.

  • April 26, 2024

    State Courts Lack Jurisdiction To Hear Tribal Police Wrongful Termination Case

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State courts did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear a wrongful termination case brought by two former police officers with the Pueblo of Santa Ana Police Department because tribal sovereign immunity bars the claims, a New Mexico panel found in affirming a trial court’s judgment.

  • April 24, 2024

    Native American Religious Organization Properly Stated Discrimination Claims

    MADISON, Wis. — A Native American religious organization that uses peyote in its rituals properly stated claims of racial and creed discrimination against a bank that denied the organization’s application for a checking account because of its peyote use, a Wisconsin federal judge found in denying the bank’s motion to dismiss.

  • April 22, 2024

    Suquamish Tribe Opposes Insurers’ Petition for Rehearing In COVID-19 Coverage Suit

    SEATTLE —The Suquamish Tribe opposed insurers’ petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc asking the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its Feb. 29 opinion that affirmed a federal court’s finding that a tribal court has subject matter jurisdiction over a COVID-19 coverage suit involving tribal properties on tribal land, arguing that the insurers’ argument “distorts” the panel’s ruling and controlling law.

  • April 22, 2024

    N.J. Federal Judge: New Evidence Does Not Give Loan Company Sovereign Immunity

    NEWARK, N.J. — A newly submitted waiver agreement does not entitle a payday loan company, which allegedly engaged in usurious practices, to tribal sovereign immunity because the agreement does not protect the company’s corporate structure from future takeovers, a New Jersey federal judge found in denying the company’s motion for reconsideration.

  • April 18, 2024

    EEOC Complaint Accuses Sheetz Of Racially Biased Hiring Practices

    BALTIMORE — Sheetz Inc., Sheetz Distribution Services LLC and CLI Transport LP (together, Sheetz) discriminate against classes of Black, Native American and other multiracial applicants based on their race by screening for criminal convictions and then denying employment based on them, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a complaint filed April 17 in a federal court in Maryland.

  • April 18, 2024

    Wash. Federal Judge Won’t Reconsider Order Denying Cultural Damages Under CERCLA

    SPOKANE, Wash. — A Washington federal judge denied a motion to reconsider an order holding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are not entitled to cultural resource damages arising from a smelter’s alleged disposal of millions of tons of toxic slag and liquid effluent into the Columbia River because such damages are not available under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

  • April 18, 2024

    Tribal Court Says Council Did Not Violate Constitution By Managing Corporation

    PETOSKEY, Mich. — The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Tribal Council did not violate the tribe’s constitution by changing the corporate charter of a tribal corporation because the constitution grants the council powers to manage such corporations, a tribal court judge found in granting the council’s motion to dismiss constitutional claims brought against it by a member of the tribe.

  • April 15, 2024

    Tribal Panel: Trace Amounts Of Illegal Drugs Do Not Constitute Criminal Possession

    POPLAR, Mont. — A tribal trial court erred in finding that a trace amount of methamphetamine was enough to find a woman guilty of the crime of possession of dangerous drugs because there was no evidence that the amount of drugs was enough to use, a Fort Peck Court of Appeals panel found in remanding a criminal case to the trial court.

  • April 15, 2024

    U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Consider Challenge To Approval Of Tribal Casino

    SAN FRANCISCO —  The U.S. Supreme Court on April 15 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a citizen group that asked whether the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in affirming a trial court judgment dismissing the group’s challenge to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) decision to approve the construction of a casino on land held in trust for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in California.

  • April 12, 2024

    9th Circuit Partially Remands Order Regarding Termination Of Tribal Whistleblower

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) failed to adequately explain how it reached its conclusion that a former tribal employee who raised concerns about the Pit River Tribe’s use of certain federal funds was not protected from retaliation as a whistleblower, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in partly granting the employee’s petition for review.

  • April 12, 2024

    California Federal Court Has No Jurisdiction Over Tribal Land Leasehold Dispute

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Federal courts do not have jurisdiction over state law property claims simply because the property at issue is on Indian land and the defendant is a member of a tribe, a California federal judge found in granting a man’s motion to dismiss claims arising from a leasehold dispute on tribal trust land.

  • April 10, 2024

    Tribes Sue Social Media Platforms Over Teen Mental Health Crisis

    LOS ANGELES — In parallel complaints filed April 9 in the California Superior Court, two Native American tribes bring claims against the operators of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube for creating a mental health crisis among their adolescents by designing their social media platforms in such a way that they are addictive, especially to younger users, which they claim leads to a plethora of emotional and psychological problems.