Mealey's Native American Law

  • 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.

  • October 30, 2023

    Calif. Federal Judge:  Tribal Police Officers Are Protected By Sovereign Immunity

    SAN DIEGO — In conducting a preliminary review of a in forma pauperis complaint filed by a man who sought damages for an alleged illegal search by two tribal police officers, a California federal judge found that the man failed to state a claim because the tribe and its officers are protected by sovereign immunity.

  • October 27, 2023

    California Panel: Sovereign Immunity Protects Tribe From Employment Claims

    SAN DIEGO — Sovereign immunity protects the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and two of its employees who were alleged to have violated state law and the U.S. Constitution when they informed a man recently hired by the band that he would have to maintain a gaming license that required him to pay child support to work at the tribe’s hotel, a California appellate court panel found in affirming a trial court’s judgment.

  • October 26, 2023

    U.S. Supreme Court Denies Application To Stay Over Florida Tribe’s Online Gaming Pact

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 25 denied an application filed by two casinos that asked the high court to stay the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ mandate for two cases in which the Circuit Court found that a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting the tribe exclusive rights to offer sports betting services in the state was lawful.

  • October 26, 2023

    Wyoming High Court Affirms Jury Verdict, Says Firm Did Not Steal Funds From Tribe

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In affirming a jury verdict that determined that a law firm did not steal any money from Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho Tribe after the decades-long relationship between the parties was ended, the Wyoming Supreme Court held that racially charged evidence was erroneously admitted at trial but that the evidence did not ultimately affect the verdict.

  • October 24, 2023

    Appeal Filed Over Access To Native American Sacred Site During Park Rehabilitation

    NEW ORLEANS — Two members of a Native American church have appealed to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals an order partly granting their motion for a preliminary injunction in which they argued that San Antiono, Texas, violated state and federal law by limiting access to a sacred site in a city park that is undergoing a rehabilitation project.

  • October 23, 2023

    Minn. High Court Creates New General Rule Of Practice For Indian Child Welfare Act

    SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Supreme Court announced in an order that a new General Rule of Practice for the District Courts will go into effect in January 2024 that will require parties and courts in third-party custody actions to take affirmative steps to determine whether a child is an Indian child for the purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

  • October 23, 2023

    Kan. Federal Judge Dismisses Some Of Native American Woman’s Discrimination Claims

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Native American woman who says she was subject to racial harassment and discrimination by her employer failed to allege facts in support of her hostile work environment claim and failed to bring her retaliatory harassment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a Kansas federal judge found Oct. 20 in partly granting the employer’s motion to dismiss.

  • October 20, 2023

    Miss. Federal Judge:  Tribal Remedies Must Be Exhausted Before Filing Federal Suit

    NORTHERN JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi federal judge stayed claims brought by two men regarding a COVID-19 mask mandate enforced by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) at one of the tribe’s casinos because the men failed to exhaust their tribal court remedies before bringing their action in federal court.

  • October 20, 2023

    Fracking Advocates Say Ruling On President Biden’s Lease Moratorium Is Moot

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Hydraulic fracturing advocates have moved in Alaska federal court for vacatur of the court’s ruling granting summary judgment to the Biden administration in a dispute over the president’s moratorium on federal fracking leases, arguing that the claims in the case are now moot because the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has canceled the leases and the cancellation constitutes a new final agency action.

  • October 19, 2023

    9th Circuit:  Northwestern Shoshone Band Maintained Hunting Rights In 1868 Treaty

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation maintained its hunting rights in an 1868 treaty it signed with the United States without the condition that the tribe maintain permanent residence on a reservation, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found in reversing and remanding a trial court’s decision to dismiss the tribe’s case for declaratory judgment.

  • October 18, 2023

    Washington Panel:  Tribes Have Inherent Authority To Tax Tobacco On Reservations

    SEATTLE — An arbitration panel fundamentally misunderstood tribal sovereignty when it found that tribal excise taxes on tobacco sales on reservations in Washington were authorized by the state through compact agreements it entered into with several tribes after the state had reached a settlement with tobacco companies over cigarette sales, a Washington appellate panel held in affirming a trial court’s interpretation of the terms of the legislation that was enacted in accordance with the settlement.

  • October 17, 2023

    Following Settlement, High Court Dismisses Clash Over Sacred Tribal Site

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a dispute over the destruction of a sacred Native American site for a highway expansion in Oregon after the parties filed a joint stipulation of dismissal in which they informed the court that they reached a settlement agreement.

  • October 16, 2023

    Supreme Court Grants Certiorari In 2nd Challenge To Chevron Deference

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 13 granted a petition for a writ of certiorari in a second case challenging the doctrine of Chevron deference and ordered that it be briefed on a schedule allowing argument “in tandem” with a pending case pertaining to the same issue, both of which involve challenges to regulations that require fishing vessels to pay federal monitors.

  • October 16, 2023

    Montana Federal Judge: Prisoner States Plausible Claims Against Blackfeet Nation

    GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A man sentenced to more than a year in prison by the courts of the Blackfeet Nation plausibly states in his petition for a writ of habeas corpus against the tribe that he was denied effective assistance of counsel and that his sentence was improper, a Montana federal judge found in denying the nation’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

  • October 16, 2023

    Before Supreme Court, Tribes Respond In Health Care Funding Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In two separate cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe responded to petitions filed by the secretary of Health and Human Services asking the same question:  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 self-determination contracts.

  • October 13, 2023

    Supreme Court Stays D.C. Circuit’s Mandate Regarding Tribe’s Online Gaming Pact

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 12 approved an application filed by two casinos and stayed the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ mandate for two cases in which it found that a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which grants the tribe exclusive rights to offer sports betting services in the state, was lawful.

  • October 12, 2023

    Ariz. Panel: State Court Lacks Jurisdiction To Hear Tort Case Against Tribe Member

    PHOENIX — State courts lack jurisdiction to hear tort cases brought against tribe members for actions that occurred on reservation land even if the actions took place on a state-maintained highway, an Arizona appellate panel found in affirming a trial court’s decision to dismiss two consolidated wrongful death cases arising from a traffic accident for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

  • October 12, 2023

    Tribal Court Says Council’s Actions In Authorizing Suit Were Unconstitutional

    MANISTEE, Mich. — The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Council violated the tribe’s constitution by authorizing a suit challenging the validity of the employment of the tribe’s prosecutor in a closed session because the council member’s votes were not recorded, a tribal judge found in granting two motions for summary disposition of the case.

  • October 11, 2023

    Tribal Supreme Court: Too Early To Consider Standing Arguments In Adoption Case

    OKMULGEE, Okla. — It is irrelevant to the issue of standing that the relatives of a minor child are not among the classes of individuals permitted to file an application for termination of paternal rights in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court because the two never filed such an application, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court opined in finding that an interlocutory appeal regarding the adoption of the child was unripe.

  • October 11, 2023

    Washington Administrative Law Judge: High Court Decision Preempts Tax On Tribe

    TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington Indian tribe does not have to pay state tax on gasoline it hauls within the state because it has a right under its treaty with the United States to travel unburdened on state highways, an administrative law judge (ALJ) found in applying a U.S. Supreme Court judgment from 2019 to an appeal over a tribal company’s tax returns.

  • October 10, 2023

    2 Alaskan Tribes Appeal Water Permit Approvals For Planned Gold Mine

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two Native American tribes have filed a notice of appeal to the state Supreme Court of a state district court’s finding that the state’s approval of 12 water permits for a proposed gold mine was not unconstitutional or arbitrary.

  • October 04, 2023

    Groups: Court Should Strike Willow Project Parties’ Extra-Record Documents

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A coalition of environmental groups and Native Americans on Oct. 3 filed a brief in Alaska federal court arguing that it should strike extra-record materials submitted by intervenor defendants in a dispute over hydraulic fracturing operations in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska as part of what is known as the Willow Project.  The groups say the intervenors fail to carry their burden to demonstrate that submission of their extra-record documents was proper.

  • October 03, 2023

    Supreme Court Denies Tribe’s Petition On Hydroelectric Dam And The Futility Doctrine

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 2 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a Washington Indian tribe that argued that its original action, asking whether the construction of a dam in the Skagit River used for hydroelectric power violated provisions of the U.S. and Washington constitutions as well as state and federal statutes by not allowing for the passage of salmon and other migratory fish, should not have been dismissed under the futility doctrine.

  • October 03, 2023

    Tribal Business Council’s Sovereign Immunity Won’t Be Considered By Supreme Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 2 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a member of an Indian tribe and her company that asserted that sovereign immunity does not bar the fraud and racketeering claims the two brought against an Indian tribe’s business council because the council waived its immunity in a mandatory arbitration clause in a joint venture agreement signed by the parties.

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