indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Supreme Court rejects land-into-trust case
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Filed Under: Law | Trust

The administration of President Barack Obama received some good news on Wednesday with the end of a potentially troublesome land-into-trust case.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, declined to hear MichGo v. Kempthorne, a lawsuit that tested the ability of the federal government to acquire land for tribes. The order from the high court came only a few minutes after Ken Salazar, a former senator from Colorado, started his job as the Secretary of the Interior Department.

The move effectively settles a debate that has haunted Interior as far back as the Clinton administration. For years, tribal foes have argued that the land-into-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act are unconstitutional.

Every court that has taken up that question has rejected it. So the action yesterday indicates the justices aren't interested in overturning the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 10th and the D.C. circuits, whose combined jurisdictions cover nearly every tribe in the country.

One tribe, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, was particularly pleased with the latest development. The tribe's efforts to create a reservation and open a casino were hindered for years by a group called Michigan Gambling Opposition.

"We are very happy with the Supreme Court's decision to reject MichGO's appeal," said Chairman D.K. Sprague. "It is, however, bittersweet because the tribe and thousands of its supporters were irrevocably harmed by this lawsuit."

Despite the favorable news, another land-into-trust issue remains in limbo. Last fall, the Supreme Court heard Carcieri v. Kempthorne, a case that could change the way Interior deals with tribes that gained federal recognition after the passage of the IRA in 1934.

Department of Justice lawyers who were appointed by President George W. Bush filed a brief with the Supreme Court last month that anticipated more hurdles for tribes like the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band, whose recognition became final in 1999. The brief said Interior would have to determine whether a post-1934 tribe was under federal supervision despite not being formally recognized.

Sprague answered that question yesterday by citing a treaty Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish signed with the U.S. in 1795. The Bush-authored brief said treaties were one way to determine whether a recently recognized tribe qualifies for the land-into-trust process.

But the Obama administration may take a different approach to addressing the post-1934 issue if Carcieri goes against tribal interests. Or the Supreme Court could rule that the IRA applies to all tribes, regardless of the date of recognition.

Between 1887, the start of the allotment period, and 1934, tribes lost 90 million acres of their land. Since the IRA, only about 5 million acres has been reacquired in trust.

Tribes complain that the land-into-trust process takes too long to complete, in part because existing regulations do not impose deadlines on Interior. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office cited an application that took nearly 20 years for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to resolve.

Litigation can also tie up an application for years, as was the case with three Michigan tribes, including the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe. All three lawsuits were resolved in favor of tribal interests.

Briefs in MichGO v. Kempthorne:
Petition | DOJ Opposition | Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band Opposition

D.C. Circuit Decision:
MI Gambling Oppo v. Kempthorne, Dirk (April 29, 2008)

Related Stories:
Land-into-trust case awaits Supreme Court action (1/13)
Turtle Talk: More thoughts on land-into-trust cases (01/13)
Supreme Court rejects two Indian law cases (1/12)
DOJ brief argues 1934 land-into-trust issue again (12/16)
Supreme Court takes on first Indian law case of term (11/04)
Turtle Talk: Poor outlook on land-into-trust case (11/4)
Rhode Island optimistic on land-into-trust case (11/04)
Oregon tribes await outcome of land-into-trust case (11/04)
Appeals court delays casino for Michigan tribe (8/18)
Appeals court judge strikes blows against Indian rights (5/5)
Appeals court backs Gun Lake land-into-trust (4/29)
Appeals court backs Michigan land-into-trust acquisition (7/5)
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute (1/9)



Copyright © 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:
Indian Health Service discusses LGBT issues at 'historic' meeting (7/28)
Haskell students to study fracking on North Dakota reservation (7/28)
Erica Pinto makes history as first woman leader of Jamul Village (7/28)
Native Sun News: Young artist wins top award at Native market (7/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts war pony races (7/28)
Steve Russell: The hypocrisy of race and Cherokee citizenship (7/28)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I was raised to be angry at White women (7/28)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Indian Country stuck with bad Republican (7/28)
Aaron Angerman: Alaska Natives not consulted about mine plan (7/28)
IHS hired physician who was sanctioned by Justice Department (7/28)
Cherokee Nation candidate emerges victorious in new election (7/28)
Ponca Tribe reclaims small part of ancestral lands in Nebraska (7/28)
Tuscarora Nation returns to ancestral home in North Carolina (7/28)
9th Circuit sides with Suquamish Tribe in fishing rights dispute (7/28)
10th Circuit affirms convictions of former Paiute Tribe employee (7/28)
Warm Springs Tribes welcome early start to huckleberry season (7/28)
Young man from Omaha Tribe sentenced for sexual abuse of child (7/28)
Makah Nation man charged for assault during attempted escape (7/28)
Miami Nation stays out of public school mascot debate in Indiana (7/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation wins round in casino battle with Arizona (7/28)
Wisconsin asks Supreme Court to rule on Ho-Chunk Nation poker (7/28)
Navajo Nation Council passes tax on alcohol at gaming facilities (7/28)
Seminole Tribe reiterates request for mediation in casino dispute (7/28)
Mohegan Tribe fired worker who helped casino regular break rules (7/28)
War of words escalates on mine at sacred Apache site in Arizona (7/27)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to take up land-into-trust fix (7/27)
Senate panel sets hearing on substance abuse in Indian Country (7/27)
Red Lake Nation schedules August 19 referendum on liquor sales (7/27)
Poarch Creeks win injunction blocking county from imposing tax (7/27)
Native Sun News: Indian elders suffer from higher dementia risk (7/27)
Lakota Country Times: Lawmakers hear about tribal economies (7/27)
Mark Trahant: Press the Republican candidates on Indian issues (7/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: Race remains an issue for police in Rapid City (7/27)
Cynthia Dunne: Justice has been served in Leonard Peltier case (7/27)
Carly McIntosh: Native name brings me closer to Mother Earth (7/27)
Mississippi Choctaw family seeks answers for county jail death (7/27)
Judge can't reopen Keepseagle case after $380M goes unspent (7/27)
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation won't drop federal recognition bid (7/27)
Editorial: New Jersey governor quietly obliterates three tribes (7/27)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe wins approval for liquor ordinance (7/27)
Seminole Tribe reports lack of progress in casino pact dispute (7/27)
Catawba Nation in talks to bring Hard Rock into gaming plans (7/27)
Graton Rancheria to break ground this fall on hotel at casino (7/27)
Sen. Barrasso defends quick movement on transportation bill (7/24)
Tribal gaming industry sees modest growth to $28.5B in 2014 (7/24)
House lawmakers introduce new version of land-into-trust fix (7/24)
Special Trustee Vince Logan reaching out to Indian Country (7/24)
Native Sun News: Deadwood mayor welcomes Native culture (7/24)
Lakota Country Times: Police aim to improve race relations (7/24)
James Giago Davies: Mixed-race Indians shamed over blood (7/24)
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.