Mealey's Native American Law

  • July 15, 2024

    Marathon Will Pay ‘Largest Ever’ Civil Penalty For Stationary CAA Violations

    BISMARCK, N.D. — Under the terms of a proposed consent decree filed by the United States in North Dakota federal court, Marathon Oil Co. has agreed to pay a $64.5 million civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Air Act (CAA) violations arising from its oil and natural gas operations within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

  • July 15, 2024

    California High Court Dismisses Tribe’s Appeal In Coronavirus Coverage Dispute

    SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court dismissed an Indian tribe insured’s appeal of a state appellate court’s finding that the insured and its experts failed to present sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the coronavirus caused property damage to the tribe’s casino and resort.

  • July 10, 2024

    Tribes Can Appeal Issue Of CERCLA Cultural Resource Damages To 9th Circuit

    SPOKANE, Wash. — A substantial ground for difference of opinion exists on whether the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to cultural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act caused by a smelter’s alleged disposal of millions of tons of toxic slag and liquid effluent into the Columbia River, a Washington federal judge found July 9 in granting the tribes’ motion for interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

  • July 09, 2024

    First Nations’ Cigarette Maker Asks To Stay Challenge To Oregon ‘Equity’ Law

    EUGENE, Ore. — A Canadian First Nations-owned cigarette manufacturer and Oregon on July 8 filed a joint motion in Oregon federal court to stay the manufacturer’s lawsuit over the state’s new payment requirement based on cigarette sales pending the outcome of an appeal of a parallel state court ruling that the requirement violates the state Constitution.

  • July 09, 2024

    Arizona Supreme Court Says New Mine Shaft Does Not Need New NPDES Permit

    PHOENIX — A copper mine shaft constructed in 2014 does not require a new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit because it is integrated into previous elements of an existing mine and is not considered a “new source” under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Arizona Supreme Court found in partially vacating a state appellate court’s judgment.

  • July 03, 2024

    Tribes’ Privilege Question Goes Unanswered As High Court Deems Suit Moot

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An appeal over the scope of the legislative privilege by two Native American tribes was mooted by a trial court ruling in the underlying voter redistricting dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court held in its July 2 order list, in which it granted the tribes’ request to vacate an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals mandamus petition related to two discovery orders.

  • June 28, 2024

    High Court Overrules Chevron Deference, Changes Standard For Regulatory Review

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 voted 6-3 to overrule the doctrine of Chevron deference as incompatible with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in two cases arising out of federal fishing regulations, changing governing precedent for federal courts reviewing agencies’ regulatory actions.

  • June 18, 2024

    Agencies Oppose Utah’s Bid To Reopen National Monuments Case After 3-Year Stay

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal defendants filed a response brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia opposing a motion by Utah to reopen a lawsuit that has been stayed for three years pertaining to former President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments in the state, in part for hydraulic fracturing purposes.  The defendants argue that the state is taking conflicting positions in two cases and should not be permitted to reopen the case at hand for the purpose of lifting the stay and filing a motion to dismiss.

  • June 18, 2024

    Native American Councils Say Fracking Lease Cancellation Was Lawful

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Three Native American governing bodies that are intervenor defendants in a federal hydraulic fracturing lease dispute have filed a response brief in Alaska federal court arguing that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and others exercised their authority lawfully when they canceled fracking leases because the leases were issued “based on the agencies’ legally deficient process.”

  • June 11, 2024

    New Mexico Federal Judge Dismisses Final Member Case In Gold King Mine MDL

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In an order dismissing the Navajo Nation’s claims against a government contractor for its alleged involvement in the release of hazardous substances from the Gold King Mine that contaminated large portions of tribal land, a New Mexico federal judge announced that all cases in the multidistrict litigation covering the incident have been terminated or transferred.

  • June 11, 2024

    DOJ Seeks Summary Judgment On Tribe’s Suit Challenging PACT Act Requirements

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — U.S. government agencies and officials filed a motion in California federal court for summary judgment on a tribe’s claims that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) should be barred from deeming the tribe out of compliance with the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, writing that PACT applies even though the tribe’s tobacco business exclusively deals with other tribes.

  • June 06, 2024

    Split U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Tribes In Health Care Funding Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 5-to-4 decision, the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 6 that 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.

  • May 31, 2024

    North Dakota Legislators Oppose Certiorari In Tribes’ Discovery Privilege Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The North Dakota Legislative Assembly and a group of lawmakers, who were granted relief by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals from discovery subpoenas served by Native American tribes opposing voter redistricting, ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the tribes’ petition for a writ of certiorari on whether the legislative privilege is qualified, rather than absolute.

  • 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.