your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Third court decision favors land-into-trust process
Friday, November 11, 2005

For the third time this year, a federal court has upheld the legality of the land-into-trust process.

On Thursday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge from the state of Utah. Officials argued that the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the law that authorized the land-into-trust process, was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The judges of the court disagreed. In the unanimous decision, they said the state failed to make its case that the IRA is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the Interior Department.

"We have previously acknowledged the statute itself places limits on the Secretary's discretion," Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote for the majority, citing a 10th Circuit case from 1999. The IRA's "legislative history identifies goals of 'rehabilitating the Indian's economic life' and 'developing the initiative destroyed by . . . oppression and paternalism' of the prior allotment policy," Briscoe added.

With the ruling, the 10th Circuit joins the 8th Circuit and the 1st Circuit this year in rejecting constitutional challenges to the land-into-trust process. Although the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't ruled directly on this issue, Bureau of Indian Affairs hope their legal battles are over.

At a recent conference in Las Vegas, George Skibine, the BIA official in charge of gaming, said "we hope these sort of challenges will be put to rest" now that numerous circuit courts have ruled in the government's favor.

Despite the victories, tribal leaders say land-into-trust decisions face lengthy delays at the BIA due to controversy over Indian gaming. "There seems to be a fear within [Skibine's] office that there may be a floodgate coming down," said Deron Marquez, the chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California, at the Las Vegas conference.

Bush administration officials have denied any attempts to purposely delay or derail the process. "There is no moratorium on land-into-trust," Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary at Interior, flatly said at the National Congress of American Indians conference last week.

Cason said the BIA divides land-into-trust applications into five "buckets" depending on the location of the land and its proposed use. The first four buckets, he said, are for non-gaming acquisitions: tribal on-reservation, tribal off-reservation, individual on-resevation and individual off-reservation.

The fifth bucket, he said, is for all gaming-related applications. These decisions are made by the central office in Washington, D.C.

According to Skibine, the Bush administration has made 15 land-into-trust for gaming decisions since 2001. An additional nine decisions are pending at the BIA, he said in Las Vegas.

The application at issue in yesterday's ruling was from 1995 and did not involve gaming. The BIA agreed to acquire two parcels of off-reservation land totaling about 25 acres for the Shivwits Band of Paiute Indians of Utah. The two parcels are located along a major interstate.

The tribe developed the land by placing billboards on the parcels. State and local officials tried to halt development, saying the billboards violated state and federal law but this argument was rejected by the 10th Circuit.

One of the judges on the panel, however, wrote separately to say that the federal Highway Beautification Act, which mentions billboards placed by interstates, applies to Indian Country and that the BIA has to enforce it. The other judges didn't address whether the law applies to Indian lands because they said the state failed to raise the issue of BIA enforcement on appeal.

Get the Decision:
Shivwits Band of Paiute Indians v. Utah (November 10, 2005)

Related Stories:
Local role in gaming land decisions disputed (11/11)
BIA official revives off-reservation land regulations (09/21)
Gaming clouds already lengthy land-into-trust process (09/15)
Trust land challenge rejected by appeals court (9/14)
Oklahoma tribe plans state's largest gaming facility (08/02)
NIGC develops system to track Indian lands (07/28)
Bush officials worried about off-reservation gaming (05/20)
BIA official confirms tribes skipping IGRA process (05/19)
Perception and realities in land-into-trust debate (05/19)
Land-into-trust for gaming under more scrutiny (04/28)
Land into trust to be examined at Senate hearing (5/10)
Update: Senate hearing on Indian gaming (04/27)
BIA backs bill to delay off-reservation casino (04/06)
Off-reservation casinos a concern at gaming summit (03/30)
Bush stance on off-reservation gaming unknown (03/29)
Exceptions to IGRA more common than often cited (03/21)
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute (02/10)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Congress approves land-into-trust bill for Pueblos in New Mexico (10/7)
House Natural Resources Committee holds markup on Indian bills (10/7)
Native Sun News: Rival teams meet on football field at Pine Ridge (10/7)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes receive $940M in Ramah settlement (10/7)
James Giago Davies: Embrace distance running in Indian Country (10/7)
Brandon Ecoffey: Powerful forces aim to keep out the Native vote (10/7)
Stephen Corry: Tribes being displaced for sake of 'conservation' (10/7)
Mohegan Tribe swears in four council members following election (10/7)
Tribes in Amazon rainforest defend homeland from illegal loggers (10/7)
Controversy stirs as House takes up Native American Energy Act (10/6)
Native Sun News: Crow Tribe leader advises Rep. Zinke on energy (10/6)
Lakota Country Times: Program for Native students closes down (10/6)
Mark Trahant: Far too many missing and murdered Native women (10/6)
Alfred Walking Bull: Let's open up about suicide in Indian Country (10/6)
Raina Thiele: Alaska Natives share culture with President Obama (10/6)
Mary Pember: Fashion show tackles trafficking in Indian Country (10/6)
Torivio Fodder: Pope Francis ignores sins of Indian mission era (10/6)
Sac and Fox Nation disappointed by denial of Jim Thorpe case (10/6)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe expects big crowd for pot kickoff (10/6)
Colville Tribes pass resolution for small amounts of marijuana (10/6)
Disaster declaration covers Catawba Nation in South Carolina (10/6)
Leader of Comanche Nation disputes removal of administrator (10/6)
Osage Nation accuses former employee of adding non-Indians (10/6)
Donald Trump doesn't think NFL team's racist name should go (10/6)
Supreme Court declines to hear appeals in two gaming cases (10/6)
San Pasqual Band loses claim for damages in gaming dispute (10/6)
New Eastern Cherokee chief takes aim at gaming commission (10/6)
Chemehuevi Tribe hosts public hearing for new gaming facility (10/6)
Little Traverse Bay Bands consider Class II for second casino (10/6)
Supreme Court rejects petitions in four more Indian law cases (10/5)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee weighs seven bills at hearing (10/5)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules business meeting (10/5)
Secretary Jewell heads to Oklahoma for tribal trust settlement (10/5)
IHS reopens comment period for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (10/5)
BIA backs extension of Rosebud Sioux Tribe gaming compact (10/5)
Native Sun News: Code Talker medals seen in traveling exhibit (10/5)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe and FEMA cooperate (10/5)
James Giago Davies: Don't let dominant culture dumb us down (10/5)
Vi Waln: Domestic violence comes in many forms on reservation (10/5)
Gyasi Ross: Republicans play games with Native women's rights (10/5)
Rosanna Deerchild: A terrifying reality facing indigenous women (10/5)
Steve Russell: Indians met Christianity at its most violent phase (10/5)
Alex Jacobs: Pope Francis honors symbol of genocide in America (10/5)
Joseph Hamilton: Tribal leaders must talk about disenrollments (10/5)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.