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Indian Law Bulletins  |  U.S. Supreme Court  |  2000-2001 Term

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Supreme Court offered seven (7) decisions this term for cases involving or affecting Native Americans.

United States v. Little Six, Inc.
534 U.S. 1052
Docket No. 00-1115

Subject: Gaming, Taxation

*Issue: Does Section 20(d) of IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(d) , exempt Native American tribes from wagering excise and occupational taxes imposed by Sections 4401 and 4411 of IRC?

Holding: Judgment vacated, and case remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for further consideration in light of Chickasaw Nation v. United States. 534 U.S. 84, 122 S. Ct. 528, 151 L.Ed.2d 474 (2001)

History: Petition for certiorari filed 1/10/01. Remanded on 12/3/01.

Holding Below: Little Six, Inc. and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community v.United States 210 F.3d 1361 Fed. Cir., 4/24/2000 Court held that Indian pull-tab games are exempt from federal wagering taxes under provision of the IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(d)(1).

Chickasaw Nation v. United States
534 U.S. 84
Docket No. 00-507

Subject: Gaming - IGRA, Federal Taxation

*Issue: Under applicable Indian-law canons of statutory construction, does IGRA, by 25 U.S.C §2719(d)(1)'s express incorporation of Chapter 35 of Internal Revenue Code, confer on Indian tribes conducting gaming operations same exemption from wagering taxes afforded to states by Chapter 35 of IRC?

Holding: The Supreme Court, Justice Breyer, held that Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) did not exempt Tribes from paying those gambling-related excise and occupational taxes that States were not required to pay under Internal Revenue Code chapter 35. Affirmed.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 10/03/00. Certiorari granted 1/22/01. Motion for petitioner to dispense with printing the joint appendix granted 3/19/01. Decided 11/27/01.

Holdings Below: Chickasaw Nation v. United States , 208 F.3d 871, 10th Cir., 4/5/00. (unpublished) Court of Appeals held that pull-tab games are considered "lottery" and so are a taxable "wager;" the Chickasaw Nation was considered a "person" and so subject to taxes; the IGRA did not preclude the imposition of federal wagering excise taxes; and finally, the self-government guarantee of the 1855 treaty between the U.S. and Chickasaw Nation did not preclude the imposition of taxes in question. Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma v. United States, 10th Cir., 210 F.3d 389 (Unpublished) Using same reasoning as companion appeal of Chickasaw Nation, the appeals court determined that the IGRA does not preclude imposition of federal wagering excise taxes on wagers placed on Indian pull-tab games operated by tribe under IGRA on trust lands.

Department of the Interior v. Klamath Water Users
532 U.S. 1
Docket No. 99-1871

Subjects: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Inter-Agency/Intra-Agency Exemption

*Issue: Are confidential communications between Indian tribes and the Department of the Interior, in connection with federal government's performance of its trust responsibility to protect and manage tribal water rights, "intra-agency" documents that may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 5 of Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C.§ 552(b)(5)

Holding: Supreme Court held that documents passing between Indian Tribes and the Department of the Interior that addressed tribal interests subject to state and federal proceedings to determine water allocations, are not exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, as "intra-agency memorandums or letters" that would normally be privileged in civil discovery. 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(5). Judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 5/22/00. Certiorari granted 9/26/00. Argued 1/10/01. Decided 3/5/01.

Holding Below: Klamath Water Users Protective Association v. United States Department of the Interior, 189 F.3d 1034 9th Cir, 8/31/99.

C&L Enterprises Inc., v. Citizen Band Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma
532 U.S. 411
Docket No. 00-292

Subjects: Sovereign Immunity

*Issues: Is arbitration agreement contained in contract executed by Indian tribe for commercial construction outside of reservation or trust land boundaries enforceable by arbitration proceedings provided for in agreement? When arbitration agreement provides that "'[t]he award rendered by the arbitrator or arbitrators shall be final, and judgment may be entered upon it in accordance with applicable law in any court having jurisdiction thereof...,'" does execution of such arbitration agreement constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity from state court suit against Indian tribe to enforce arbitration award resulting from such arbitration proceedings?

Holding: Supreme Court held that under the agreement the Tribe proposed and signed, the Tribe clearly consented to arbitration and to the enforcement of arbitral awards in Oklahoma state court; the Tribe thereby waived its sovereign immunity from C&L's suit. The judgment of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 8/22/00. Certiorari granted 10/30/00. Argued March 19, 2001. Motion of San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians for leave to file brief as amicus curiae granted 2/20/01.Motion of Texas, et al., for leave to participate in oral argument as amici curiae and for divided argument is granted 2/20/01.Motion of the Acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument is granted 2/20/01. Decided 4/30/01

Holding Below: C&L Enterprises Inc., v. Citizen Band Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, Okla. Ct. App, 2/8/00, unpublished.

Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley
532 U.S. 645
Docket No. 00-454

Subjects: Tribal sovereignty and powers, Taxation

*Issue: May Indian tribe tax transaction occurring between two non-Indians on fee land within reservation?

Holding: Supreme Court held that the Navajo Nation's imposition of a tax upon nonmembers on non-Indian fee land within the reservation is invalid. Judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is reversed.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 9/22/00. Certiorari granted 11/27/00. Argued 3/27/01. Motion of the acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument granted 3/5/01. Decided 5/29/01.

Holding Below: Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley, 210 F.3d 1247, 10th Cir.

Idaho v. United States
533 U.S. 262
Docket No. 00-189

Subject: Water rights -- Coeur D'Alene Reservation, Idaho -- Coeur d'Alene Lake (Idaho); Submerged lands -- Coeur d'Alene Lake (Idaho); Navigable waters -- Coeur d'Alene Lake (Idaho); Indian title -- Coeur D'Alene Reservation, Idaho.

*Issue: Is the defeat of state title to submerged lands implied when Congress, in pre-statehood act, authorizes cession negotiations with Indian tribe for purpose of removing submerged lands from executive order reservation they occupy?

Holding: Supreme Court held that the National Government holds title, in trust for the Tribe, to lands underlying portions of Lake Coeur d'Alene and the St. Joe river. Judgment of the Court of Appeals, is affirmed.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 7/25/00. Certiorari granted 12/11/00. Argued April 23, 2001. Motion of respondent Coeur D'Alene Tribe for divided argument granted 4/2/01. Decided June 18, 2001.

Holding Below: United States of America v. State of Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 210 F.3d 1067, 9th Cir.

State of Nevada v. Floyd Hicks
533 U.S. 353
Docket No. 99-1994

Subject: Tribal Court - Jurisdiction

*Issues: Does either sovereign immunity of Nevada, or qualified immunity of its officers, preclude tribal court jurisdiction in actions stating tort and constitutional claims against individually named state officials, for official actions taken in Indian country with express permission of tribal judge? Is the decision on the question of tribal court jurisdiction over state officials properly bifurcated with consideration of tribal court's jurisdiction separated from, and antecedent to, decision on officials' claims of sovereign and qualified immunity? Is rule of Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981), creating presumption against tribal court jurisdiction over nonmembers, limited to cases in which cause of action against nonmember arises on lands within reservation that are not controlled by tribe?

Holding: Supreme Court held that 1) Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the wardens' alleged tortious conduct in executing a search warrant for an off-reservation crime; 2) Tribal Court had no jurisdiction over the §1983 claims; 3) Petitioners were not required to exhaust their claims in the Tribal Court before bringing them in the Federal District Court; 4) Various arguments to the contrary lack merit. Judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.

History: Petition for certiorari filed 6/5/00. Certiorari granted 10/10/00. Argued 3/21/01. Motions of the Acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument are granted 2/20/01. Decided 6/25/01.

Holding Below: State of Nevada, et al., v. Floyd Hicks, et al. 196 F.3d 1020 9th Cir.

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Special orders were given in one (1) case involving or affecting Native Americans

Alaska v. United States
Docket No. 128 Original

Subjects: Submerged Lands and Wetlands

History: Motion for leave to file complaint granted 6/12/00. Proposed supplemental decree of 6/19/00 approved and entered 10/10/00. Special Master appointed 10/16/00. Motion for Alaska to file amended complaint granted 01/08/01. Amended complaint and answer are referred to the Special Master 3/5/01. Motion of Franklin H. James, et al., for leave to intervene is referred to the Special Master 4/30/01. Motion of the Special Master for fees and reimbursement of expenses is granted, and the Special Master is awarded a total of $12,963.14 for the period October 16, 2000 - April 16, 2001, to be paid equally by the parties 5/14/01.

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Petitions for certiorari were denied in eighteen (18) cases involving or affecting Native Americans.

Tribal Governing Board of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Thomas
Docket No. 99-1520

Subjects: Indian Reorganization Act - Elections, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19

*Issue: Is the tribe, having an interest in the continuity of its tribal constitution, a necessary party pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P 19, in the action by private parties contesting the way certain federal officials administered election to amend tribal constitution?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 3/13/00. Certiorari denied 10/02/00.

Holding Below: Thomas v. United States, 189 F.3d 662, 7th Cir., 9/7/99. Court held that the tribal governing board was not a necessary party in the action since inter alia, Congress had refused to reflect tribal interest in the legal structure of tribal constitutional elections.

Great Western Casinos Inc., v. Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Docket No. 99-1756

Subjects: Gaming - Fraud, Sovereign Immunity

*Issues: Does the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity accorded to Indian tribes extend to non-tribe defendants, including tribal council, tribal council members, tribal members, and tribe's attorneys? Is action against non-tribe defendants preempted by federal law despite Congress's mandate, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1360, specifying that California's state courts shall have jurisdiction over civil causes of action in which Indians are party?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 5/1/00. Certiorari denied 10/02/00.

Holding Below: Great Western Casinos, Inc., v. Morongo Band of Mission Indians, et al., 88 Cal.Rptr .2d 828. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's opinion and held that it was not limited to reviewing the allegations of the complaint to determine the existence of subject matter jurisdiction; the tribe did not waive its sovereign immunity; individual defendants were similarly immune from suit; and federal law has completely preempted the field of Indian gaming, thus the state court had no jurisdiction over the claims raised in the complaint.

Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo v. El Paso County Water Improvement District No.1
Docket No. 00-54

Subjects: Constitution - Eleventh Amendment Immunity

*Issue: Does the Eleventh Amendment bar suit against political subdivision of state simply because entity possesses powers of government?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 7/10/00. Certiorari denied 10/02/00.

Holding Below: Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo v. El Paso County Water Improvement District No.1 , 5th Cir., unpublished. Court held that county water improvement district is alter ego of the state of Texas and is immune under the Eleventh Amendment from suit in federal court. Tribe's arguments that the state, by transacting in Tribe's lands, waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity by engaging in activity regulated by Congress, and that Congress abrogated state's Eleventh Amendment immunity in Indian Non-Intercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. § 177, lack merit.

Anderson v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.
Docket No. 00-73

Subjects: Constitution, United States- Due Process, Constitution, United States- Equal Protection

*Issue: Does state appellate Court's summary dismissal of Native American's damages claim against non-Indian corporate party because he failed to join sovereign Indian nation undermine Congress's express grant of jurisdiction to New York courts over private civil disputes between Indians and non-Indians, 25 U.S.C.§ 233, violate supremacy clause, or deprive Native Americans of due process or equal protection of laws in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 7/12/00. Certiorari denied 10/02/00.

*Holding Below: Anderson v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., N.Y. App.Div., 265 A.D.2d 817. Court dismissed complaint seeking damages for public utility's breach of contract to provide expanded electric service to business, privately owned by Tuscarora Indian and located on Tuscarora Indian Nation's reservation for failure to join Tuscarora Indian Nation as necessary party.

Ware v. Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma Housing Authority
Docket No. 00-586

Subjects: State court jurisdiction, Tribal sovereignty and powers

*Issue: Does Oklahoma statute, enacted pursuant to 1937 United States Housing Act and intended to help in creation of Indian housing authorities, also create jurisdiction in Oklahoma courts to rule upon tribal political dispute and dictate political processes tribe must use to select members of governing body of tribe's Indian housing authority?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 10/13/00. Certiorari denied 1/16/01.

Holding Below: Housing Authority of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, et al. v. Ware, et al. 10 P.3d 226, 7/18/00. Court held that district court did not exceed its jurisdiction in entering judgment, and that tribal council was a governing body with the power to appoint commissioners to tribal housing authority.

Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri v. Pierce
Docket No. 00-599

Subjects: Taxation, Tribal standing, State immunity

*Issues: 1) Is The Kansas Indians, 72 U.S. 737 (1866), controlling case for interpretation and construction of Kansas Enabling Act, 12 Stat. 126, thereby vitiating court of appeals' reliance on United States v. Ward, 28 F.Cas.397 (1863)? 2) Can Tenth Circuit judicially modify act of Congress that allowed State of Kansas to join Union on specific terms and conditions that Indian Country would be excluded from jurisdiction and territory of State of Kansas, thereby overturning lower federal court decisions? 3) Did court of appeals misconstrue interpretation of Kansas Enabling Act as developed by Kansas state courts by failing to rely upon Kansas Supreme Court's ruling in Parker v. Winsor, 5 Kan. 362 (Kan. 1870)? 4) When considered in light of its congressional legislative history, does language of Kansas Enabling Act place Indian Country beyond civil jurisdiction and control of State of Kansas? 5) Did Tenth Circuit misconstrue, misinterpret, and misunderstand Indian treaty law for Kansas tribes? 6) Did Tenth Circuit unilaterally modify treaties of Iowa, Kickapoo, and Sac & Fox Tribes by its ruling that Kansas has civil jurisdiction over Indian Country?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 10/11/00. Certiorari denied 2/20/01.

Holding Below: Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri et al., v. Pierce, 213 F.3d 566, 5/30/00.Court of Appeals held that: 1) neither the Tax Injunction Act nor the Eleventh Amendment barred suit; 2) tribes had standing; 3)legal incidence of tax fell upon the distributors and the tax imposed only an indirect burden on the tribes; 4) tax law was not preempted; and 5) there was insufficient evidence to allow balancing of federal, tribal, and state interests.

Pierce v. Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri
Docket No. 00-556

Subjects: State taxation, Tribal standing, State immunity

* Issues: Does 28 U.S.C. § 1362, general jurisdictional statute for federal suits brought by Indian tribes, abrogate states' 11th Amendment immunity? Does Indian tribe have standing to challenge state tax when legal incidence of tax does not fall on tribe or its members, and tribe has no responsibility for administering or collecting tax? Does Ex Parte Young doctrine apply when Indian tribe challenges general state tax?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 10/11/00. Certiorari denied 2/20/01.

*Holding Below: Pierce v. Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri, 213 F.3d 566, 10th Cir. Court held that state is not entitled to sovereign immunity under 11th Amendment in Indian tribes' suit to enjoin state from collecting its motor fuel tax on fuel distributed to tribes' retail stations, notwithstanding state's contention that 28 U.S.C. §1362, which specifically confers federal court jurisdiction over matters involving Indian tribes, is not sufficient to overcome immunity; tribes have constitutional standing to maintain their suit to enjoin state from collecting motor fuel tax on fuel distributed to tribes' retail stations; because they have alleged particularized imminent economic injury if state imposes tax on such fuel, alleged injury is directly traceable to state's desire to tax such distributions, and decision in favor of tribes would likely redress alleged injury, given that distributors responsible for remitting tax pass cost of tax along to tribes; with respect to prudential standing considerations, tribes' alleged economic interests are arguably within zone of interests protected by federal law through long-standing principle of tribal self-government, and, even though legal incidence of tax falls on non-Indians, tribe may still be entitled to injunctive relief and therefore are not simply presenting "generalized grievance" common to all retailers to whom distributors pass cost of tax; court having found that it has jurisdiction to consider merits of case under 28 U.S.C. § 1362, it declines to address question of application of Ex parte Young 209 U.S. 123 (1908), to matters of state taxation affecting Indian tribes.

South Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada
Docket No. 00-838

Subject: Water rights, Waiver of immunity

*Issues: 1) When Nevada state water rights are adjudicated to non-Indians and lands to which water rights are appurtenant are subsequently purchased by United States and placed in trust for south Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians as reservation, does acquisition and use of those waters constitute waiver of tribe's immunity from suit to declare water commissioner's right to cross reservation to administer water rights of other parties? 2) Is United States indispensable party to litigation involving question of whether or not right of way exists on lands it holds in trust for South Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe? 3) When lands and appurtenant water rights that are subject to state water decree while in hands of private parties are purchased by United States and placed in trust as reservation for tribe, does State of Nevada have implied right of way across reservation land to administer water rights of other parties?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 11/22/00. Certiorari denied 2/26/01.

Holding Below: South Fork Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada v. Sixth Judicial District Court ex rel. County of Humboldt, 7 P.3d 455 (Nev. 8/24/00). Supreme Court of Nevada denied writ of prohibition to prevent district court from proceeding on petition for order requiring petitioners to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for interfering with the state engineer and water commissioners in entering reservation to regulate adjudicated water rights pursuant to the Humboldt Decree. Court held that tribe had waived sovereign immunity and that as legal owner of the reservation, the United States was not an indispensable party.

Karuk Tribe of California v. United States
Docket No. 00-1012

Subjects: Eminent domain, Compensation

History: Petition for certiorari filed 12/18/00. Certiorari denied 3/26/01.

Holding Below: Karuk Tribe of California v. Ammon 209 F.3d 1366, Fed. Cir April 18, 2000

Court held that plaintiffs did not possess compensable vested property interest in Reservation, and partition of the Reservation thus was not unconstitutional taking.

Manybeads v. United States
Docket No. 00-886

Subjects: Tribal immunity, Necessary and indispensable party

*Issues: Does sovereign immunity of Indian tribe that chooses to absent itself from lawsuit bar claim by individual Indians against federal government that challenges constitutionality of federal statute and that seeks only prospective injunction and declaratory relief from federal government and nothing from absent tribe? 2) Can United States adequately represent interest of Indian tribe that voluntarily absents itself from lawsuit when Congress has directed government to represent potentially conflicting interests of absent tribe and other parties, when United States asserts that it can represent both interests, when absent tribe can offer no example of any actual conflict within context of litigation and that otherwise denies other party any alternative forum to challenge constitutionality of federal statute? 3) Does Indian tribe that fully participates in litigation and mediation of lawsuit, including preparation and proposal of settlement agreements that are accepted by other parties and that unjustly enrich tribe, waive its sovereign immunity, or in alternative should it be estopped from claiming immunity?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 11/28/00. Motion of Hopi Tribe for leave to file a brief of amicus curiae is granted 4/2/01. Certiorari denied 4/2/01.

Holding Below: Manybeads, et al. v. United States of America 209 F.3d 1164 9th Cir. After Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and representatives of individual Navajos reached Accommodation Agreement limiting the rights of Navajos residing on Hopi land, and after the Hopi Tribe and United States reached Settlement Agreement entitling Hopi Tribe to compensation, court held that the Tribe was both a necessary and indispensable party.

Hardin v. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Docket No. 00-1233

Subjects: State Taxation, 11th Amendment

*Issues: 1) Is suit for tax refund in state court adequate remedy at law so as to bar equitable relief in federal court against state officials concerning state tax assessment? 2) Should this conflict in circuits be resolved by this court's determining that state taxation is core area of state sovereignty that renders Ex parte Young exception unavailable?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 1/24/01. Certiorari denied 4/2/01.

Holding Below: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Hardin, 223 F.3d 104, 9th Cir. Court held that action was properly characterized as a suit for declaratory relief against state officers to enjoin an ongoing violation of federal law, rather than a suit against the state itself, and thus came exception under Ex Parte Young to EleventhAmendment's grant of sovereign immunity, even though tribe had an available remedyunder state law.

Michigan v. EPA
Docket No. 00-746

Subjects: Environmental regulation, Tribal sovereignty and powers - Trust lands, Reservation land owned in fee by non-Indians

History: Petition for certiorari filed 11/9/00. Certiorari denied 4/16/01.

Holding Below: Arizona Public Service Co. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., 211 F.3d 1280, 5/5/00. Court held that 1) Congress expressly delegated authority to tribes to regulate air quality on privately-owned fee land within reservation; 2) EPA's interpretation of "reservations" to include tribal trust land was reasonable; 3) So long as tribe has inherent jurisdiction over allotted lands and dependent Indian communities, tribe has authority to redesignate geographic areas and propose tribal implementation plans; 4) challenge to EPA's purported limitation on responsive comments was moot; 5) claim that EPA impermissibly abrogated existing agreements between tribes and regulated industry was not ripe for review; 6) EPA could exempt tribes from certain judicial review requirements; and 7) parties had adequate notice of final rule's content regarding judicial review procedures.

Connecticut ex rel. Blumenthal v. U.S. Department of the Interior
Docket No. 00-1032

Subjects: Connecticut Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, Trust Lands, Indian Reorganization Act

*Issues: Did Second Circuit misconstrue CISCSA, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1751-1760, by construing statutory limits of secretary of interior's trust acquisition authority so broadly that, as conceded by court, it 'would theoretically make it possible for Secretary to take into trust virtually all of southeastern Connecticut,' thereby diminishing sovereign territory of state without its consent? 2) Is Second Circuit's application of Indian canon of statutory construction to contemporary act of Congress that is not result of unequal bargaining power of Indians inconsistent with original intent of canon as articulated through this court's precedents? 3) Did Second Circuit err in deferring to agency interpretation of CILCSA when interpretation permitting trust acquisition in question is inconsistent with and complete reversal of agency's prior interpretation made two years earlier disallowing same trust acquisition?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 12/22/00. Certiorari denied 4/30/01.

Holding Below: Connecticut v. U.S. Department of the Interior 228 F.3d 82, 2d Cir.September 25, 2000. Court held that Connecticut Indian Land Claims Settlement Act proscribed Secretary from taking into trust only those non-settlement lands acquired by Tribe that were purchased settlement funds.

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. United States
Docket No. 00-1262

Subjects: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Consent Decree

*Issues: 1) Should EPA be required to exercise its federal fiduciary obligations to Indian tribes under RCRA to fully protect and preserve reservation lands from hazardous waste pollution and contamination? 2) Should EPA's decisions be subject to heightened scrutiny of judicial review when federal actions directly impact trust property and tribal resources?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 2/2/01. Certiorari denied 5/14/01.

*Holding Below: Shoshone Bannock Tribes v. United States, 229 F.3d 1161, 9th Cir, unpublished, 7/7/00. Absent specific duty imposed on government with respect to Indians, government's general trust duty to tribes is satisfied by complying with general regulations and statutes that are not specifically aimed at protecting tribes, accordingly, because RCRA is not aimed specifically at protecting Indian tribes, EPA satisfied general trust duty to tribes, in connection with consent decree resolving RCRA claims with company that produces elemental phosphorous at plant located on fee land within Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Reservation, by engaging in fair and extensive consultation with tribes during negotiations, even though tribes were not party to suit, and by effecting reasonable settlement reached at arm's length.

Cermak v. Norton
Docket No. 00-1433

Subjects: Allotments, Jurisdiction

*Issues: 1) Should "Indian Land Certificates" issued by Bureau of Indian Affairs for land in Minnesota be characterized as "allotments" for purposes of federal law and for purposes of obtaining federal jurisdiction? 2) Have DOI and BIA effected unconstitutional taking of property rights to which heirs had legal expectancy? 3) Does Pub. L. No. 96-557 permit DOI to unilaterally cut off rights to land assignments held by Native American or to dispossess his heirs of their rights?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 3/13/01. Certiorari denied 5/14/01.

Holding Below: Cermak v. Babbitt, Fed. Cir., 234 F.3d 1356, 12/13/00. Court held that Jurisdictional statute for Court of Federal Claims and statute providing that district courts had subject matter jurisdiction over certain claims against United States, constituted waivers of sovereign immunity with respect to claim for damages but not with respect to claim for injunctive relief; 2) statute conferring on district courts jurisdiction over actions involving Indians' rights to allotments did not provide District Court with jurisdiction; and 3) Court of Federal Claims' lack of jurisdiction to order equitable relief for descendants did not preclude transfer of action to Court of Federal Claims, absent basis for District Court jurisdiction over equitable claim.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas
Docket No. 00-1413

Subjects: Gaming, Tribal Sovereign Immunity

*Issues: 1) Did Congress unequivocally express intent to abrogate petitioners' tribal sovereign immunity from suit by providing in Section 1300g-6(c) that "nothing in this section shall be construed as precluding the State of Texas from bringing an action in the courts of the United states to enjoin violations of the provisions of this section"? 2) Did Congress condition bringing suit under such abrogation, if any, upon authorization by state legislature? 3) Does abrogation of immunity in Section 1300g-6(c), if any, extend to state law causes of action?ss

History: Petition for certiorari filed 3/12/01. Certiorari denied 6/4/01.

*Holding Below: State v. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, 5th Cir.(Tex.), unpublished, 10/31/00. Court held that Provision of the Restoration Act 25 U.S.C. § 1300g-6(c), that states that "nothing in this section shall be construed as precluding the State of Texas from bringing an action in the courts of the United States to enjoin violations of the provisions of this section" clearly abrogates tribal immunity with respect to action in federal court by Texas to enjoin violations of anti-gaming provision of act, 25 U.S.C. § 1300g-6(a), which states that all gaming activities prohibited under Texas law are prohibited on tribe's reservation.

San Juan School District Board of Education v. Sinajini
Docket No. 00-1596

Subjects: Education - Schools, Equal Opportunity, Consent Decree

History: Petition for certiorari filed 4/17/01. Certiorari denied 6/178/01.

Holding Below: Sinajini, et al v. Board of Education of the San Juan School District, 233 F.3d 1236, 10th Cir. Parents and Chapters of Navajo Tribe sued school district, alleging it denied equal educational activities to Native Americans on the basis of race. District Court held that parents and Chapters had partially prevailed and awarded them reduced amount of attorney fees. Parents and Chapters appealed. Court of Appeals found that 1) District Court had erred in limiting attorney fees award to issues pled; 2) catalyst test did not apply to question whether parents and Chapters prevailed for purposes of attorney fees; and 3) District Court erred in determining that parents achieved only limited success because they prevailed on a significant claim but such claim was only one of approximately twenty-one claims for relief.

Pezold, Richey, Caruso & Barker v. Cherokee Nation
Docket No. 00-1552

Subject: Sovereign Immunity

*Issues: Does Indian Tribe's assertion of sovereign immunity insulate tribe from court-imposed sanctions for tribe's misconduct during litigation?

History: Petition for certiorari filed 4/9/01. Certiorari denied 6/29/01.

Holding Below: Pezold, Richey, Caruso & Barker v. Cherokee Nation Industries Inc., and The Cherokee Nation, 18 P.3d 364, Okla. Ct. App., 9/1/00. Law firm brought suit against Tribe to recover attorney fees arising from representation of tribe in commercial matters. District Court imposed discovery sanctions against tribe after firm dismissed case without prejudice due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Tribe appealed. Court of Civil Appeals held that the tribe's sovereign immunity protected it from state court's exercise of inherent powers to sanction abusive litigation practices.

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Petition for writ of mandamus was denied in (1) case involving or affecting Native Americans

In re Leon Braun, petitioner
Docket No. 00-1223

Subjects: False Claims Act, Sovereign Immunity

History: Petition for writ of mandamus filed 1/16/01. Mandamus denied 3/26/01. Rehearing denied 5/14/01.

Holding Below: Braun, Leon, v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, 11th Cir. unpublished, 8/21/01.

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*Organization by status.

Cases decided

Special orders

Petition for certiorari denied

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A note about links used in this document

Text highlighted in blue are links to information available on the Internet free of charge. Text highlighted in green are links to information available on Westlaw, for the convenience of those who have a Westlaw account. Please contact the National Indian Law Library if you need help obtaining legal documents.

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* Synopsis and holding provided under an agreement with Westlaw.com www.westlaw.com

* "Issues" reproduced with permission from The United States Law Week, Volume 69:

No. 3, p. 3066 (July 18, 2000)
No. 10, p. 3181 (September 19, 2000)
No. 15, p. 3285 (October 24, 2000)
No. 7, p. 3149 (August 22, 2000)
No. 2, p. 3029 (July 11, 2000)
No. 16, p. 3305 (October 31, 2000)
No. 29, p. 3524 (February 6, 2001)
No. 3, p. 3071 (July 18, 2000)
No. 3, p. 3071 (July 18, 2000)
No. 4, p. 3099 (August 1, 2000)
No. 4, p. 3099 (August 1, 2000)
No. 4, p. 3099 (August 1, 2000)
No. 17, p. 3324 (November 11, 2000)
No. 17, p. 3324 (November 11, 2000)
No. 16, p. 3305 (October 31, 2000)
No. 16, p. 3305 (October 31, 2000)
No. 24, p. 3435 (January 2, 2001)
No. 24, p. 3435 (January 2, 2001)
No. 31, p. 3563 (February 20, 2001)
No. 26, p. 3485 (January 16, 2001)
No. 32, p. 3581 (February 27, 2001)
No. 32, p. 3581 (February 27, 2001)
No. 38, p. 3661 (April 10, 2001)
No. 37, p. 3652 (April 3, 2001)
No. 37, p. 3652 (April 3, 2001)
No. 41, p. 3708 (May 1, 2001)

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