indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Taking a trip down memory lane with Lakota Times (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe puts hold on ethics board (4/24)
Steven Newcomb: Gradual stealing of Western Shoshone land (4/24)
John Kane: Keystone battle is about Native identity and land (4/24)
Albert Bender: Cowboys and Indians unite to fight Keystone (4/24)
Joyce Oberly: Teach all sides of tribal land theft in Oklahoma (4/24)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Treating Native culture as a commodity (4/24)
Al Jazeera: Pascua Yaqui Tribe looks for justice under VAWA (4/24)
Northern Arapaho Tribe per cap stirs boost in local economy (4/24)
Navajo Nation Council fails to revive higher tax on junk foods (4/24)
Graton Rancheria defends decision to pave over historic site (4/24)
North Dakota commission backs power line opposed by tribes (4/24)
Former Cedarville Rancheria leader back in court for murders (4/24)
Florida court rejects tribal jurisdiction in child custody dispute (4/24)
South Dakota Tribal Relations Secretary to step down from job (4/24)
Yakama Nation sues to put a stop to tours on sacred mountain (4/24)
CSKT firm lands $1.8M contract to provide military equipment (4/24)
Indiana settles lawsuit over religious rights of Indian inmates (4/24)
District leaders on Tohono O'odham Nation removed over theft (4/24)
Morongo Band announces partnership for Internet poker game (4/24)
Snoqualmie Tribe seeks repayment of investment in Fiji casino (4/24)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe expected to miss second gaming payment (4/24)
Judge won't block construction of Jamul Indian Village casino (4/24)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe awaits decision in gaming lawsuit (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala student makes name as young writer (4/23)
Mark Trahant: Budget predictions at the Indian Health Service (4/23)
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides in Washington (4/23)
Gyasi Ross: Stop Keystone XL Pipeline and protect homelands (4/23)
Videos: Cowboy Indian Alliance protests Keystone XL Pipeline (4/23)
Steve Russell: Indians often seen an obstacle to government (4/23)
Mary Pember: Ojibwe women rise to protect the environment (4/23)
Brent Cahwee: Shoni Schimmel brings her show to the WNBA (4/23)
Malcolm Benally: Some Navajo leaders clueless on mascots (4/23)
Jacoby Ellsbury makes strong debut with New York Yankees (4/23)
Washington team owner says he 'understands' Indian issues (4/23)
Gathering of Nations ready for annual powwow and pageant (4/23)
Paskenta Band suspends family during contentious meeting (4/23)
Navajo family sues restaurant over drunken driving deaths (4/23)
Crushplate: 10 disturbing facts about Indian Country health (4/23)
North Dakota tribe ranks high among energy producers in US (4/23)
WXPR: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe taps green energy (4/23)
Opinion: Tribal members challenge California taxation rules (4/23)
Supreme Court allows ban on affirmative action in Michigan (4/23)
Turtle Talk: No word from Supreme Court on Bay Mills case (4/23)
ICT interview with Ernie Stevens of NIGA on racist mascots (4/23)
Jamul Band rejects claim about burial ground at casino site (4/23)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sends $1M casino application fee (4/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation seeks road grant for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Teacher resigns after arrest for theft at Poarch Creek casino (4/23)
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.