Law

Appeals court rules for Cahto Tribe in disenrollment dispute





Disenrollment decisions made by the Cahto Tribe of California cannot be appealed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

The tribe removed 22 people from the rolls in 1995. After a lengthy delay, the BIA ordered the tribe to reinstate the people in 2009.

The 9th Circuit, however, said the agency lacked authority to intervene. The tribe's constitution only authorizes the BIA to take action on rejected enrollment applications -- not in disenrollment disputes -- the court stated.

"Nowhere in the tribal documents is there a grant of authority to the BIA to review appeals from disenrollment decisions," the court concluded.

Despite ruling against the BIA, the court encouraged the 22 people who were disenrolled to apply for membership again even though they face more obstacles. The agency should be able to take action if the applications are denied, the decision stated.

"While mindful of the obstacles faced by these disenrolled individuals in applying for membership, we nevertheless encourage them to reapply and to seek review by the BIA if their applications are rejected," the court stated.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Cahto Tribe v. BIA.

9th Circuit Decision:
Cahto Tribe v. BIA (May 15, 2013)

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