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:
Indigenous activists reclaim nation's capital in defiance of Trump (4/28)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe ends appeal in Dakota Access lawsuit (4/28)
Ute Tribe demands 'voice' as Trump orders review of Bears Ears (4/28)
Senate panel takes up bill to bring AMBER Alert funding to tribes (4/28)
Gun Lake Tribe prepares for grand opening of casino expansion (4/28)
Arne Vainio: We lost a fluent Ojibwe speaker in Larry Smallwood (4/28)
Native Sun News Today: Runners from Standing Rock head to Ohio (4/28)
James Giago Davies: People tell me it's better to read about pets (4/28)
Harold Monteau: Supreme Court stirs smelly pot of fish head stew (4/28)
Steven Newcomb: 'Picking Fights' book is a must-read for Natives (4/28)
Whiteclay liquor stores must close temporarily amid court battle (4/28)
Disputed leaders of Nooksack Tribe hit by Supreme Court decision (4/27)
Indigenous activists make presence known for climate march in DC (4/27)
Interior Department announces $5.7M in tribal preservation grants (4/27)
Mark Trahant: Senate candidate cites Standing Rock as 'awakening' (4/27)
Native Sun News Today: Battle over Whiteclay liquor just beginning (4/27)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Why are we still dealing with racism today? (4/27)
Albert Bender: Navajo family still waiting on justice for loved one (4/27)
Whiteclay liquor stores win surprise court ruling on liquor licenses (4/27)
Dakota Access firm faces fines for two spills of drilling fluid in Ohio (4/27)
Gathering of Nations gets ready for annual powwow in new venue (4/27)
Secretary Zinke lacks leadership team more than a month into job (4/27)
Republicans seek to avoid shutdown with temporary spending bill (4/27)
Supreme Court ruling seen as benefit to casino bus crash lawsuit (4/27)
Mashantucket Tribe charges off-duty officer for assault at casino (4/27)
Trump singles out Bears Ears as an 'abuse' of government's power (4/26)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Let's call Columbus by what he truly was (4/26)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota youth set up beekeeping business (4/26)
Cronkite News: Trump seeks to hire thousands of border officers (4/26)
Doug Pibel: New film teaches us about value of indigenous seeds (4/26)
Jenn Weddle: 'Best possible result' from court in sovereignty case (4/26)
Peter d'Errico: Oneida architect offers indigenous approach to law (4/26)
Whiteclay liquor stores aim to stay open pending fight for licenses (4/26)
Support for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe leads to recall in Alaska city (4/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe loses appeal in federal recognition lawsuit (4/26)
Police use tear gas & rubber bullets at indigenous protest in Brazil (4/26)
Mohegan Tribe wants gaming disputes resolved in judicial system (4/26)
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.