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
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Oneida Nation families lose court challenge
Monday, August 11, 2003

A federal judge is refusing to get involved in a dispute between the Oneida Nation of New York and tribal members who say they are victims of retaliation for opposing the tribal leadership.

Unless a higher authority steps in, or the tribe changes its mind, four families who live on the 32-acre Oneida Reservation will lose their homes next week. The tribe considers the homes unsafe for living and plans to demolish them August 20.

Among those who is being evicted is Maisie Shenandoah, the 71-year-old aunt of Oneida representative Ray Halbritter. Shenandoah and her allies say the only reason they are being targeted is because they have criticized Halbritter.

But in a 15-page ruling issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue said there was no evidence that the tribe is violating the civil rights of its members. Citing long-standing principles of federal Indian policy, he said he had no jurisdiction to interfere in matters of tribal self-government.

The battle over the homes dates back at least three years, when the tribe began what has been called a "beautification" campaign. The tribe's housing department sought to inspect homes on the reservation in order to ensure their safety.

Some tribal members tried to prevent the inspections but were unsuccessful. One woman, Danielle Patterson, was arrested while trying to resist a forced inspection, a November 2001 scuffle with tribal police that was caught on videotape.

Patterson eventually lost her trailer home to the beautification program. The tribe offered her a four-bedroom home rent free for six months but she refused.

"Why would I pay rent to them for a house that I could never own?" she told The Syracuse Post-Standard in December 2001. "Why would I pay rent to them if I already own my own home?"

The tribe has made the same offer to the current set of evictees, led by Maisie Shenandoah. In his decision, Mordue cited the offer as tipping the case in the tribe's favor.

But the major reason for Mordue's refusal to get involved is the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) of 1968. Although the law imposes certain U.S. constitutional guarantees -- such as freedom of speech -- on tribal governments, the courts have ruled that the standards are to be set by tribes without federal or state review.

The only way out of this limitation is to seek what is called a writ of habeas corpus, which is a challenge to detention by a tribal government. Detention doesn't necessarily have to involve being put in jail, it can involve parole or other related actions -- most notably permanent banishment from a tribe.

In the case of the plaintiffs, none have been stripped of their tribal membership or have been forced to leave the reservation. They argued that taking away their homes will have the same effect, but Murdue dismissed the claims as not falling under ICRA.

"Insofar as allegations by various plaintiffs concerning retaliatory conduct by defendants such as withholding of housing and/or heating assistance, withholding of government distribution checks and confiscation of boats and automobiles, and even the destruction or threatened destruction of their homes, it is clear that these alleged incidents concern economic restraints and/or personal property rather than actual liberty interests," he wrote.

Get the Ruling:
Shenandoah v. Halbritter (August 8, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Oneidas for Democracy - http://www.oneidasfordemocracy.org
Oneida Nation - http://www.oneida-nation.net

Related Stories:
Oneida families lose homes waiting on court (8/1)
Oneida Nation issues eviction orders against families (7/30)
Oneida Nation sends inspector to homes (06/12)
Oneida Nation members compare tribe to Hitler (05/13)
Oneida Nation residents fear destruction of homes (5/9)
Demolition of Oneida woman's home turned into film (5/8)
Oneida woman's home demolished (10/23)
Oneida woman's home will be demolished (10/22)
Oneida woman won't appear before court (09/24)
Accusers of Oneida official won't testify (8/9)
Oneida official accused of harassment (7/17)
Film showing at school canceled (4/17)
Oneida Nation offers home to member (12/19)
Video clears up little in Oneida dispute (12/10)
Police video documents Oneida scuffle (12/7)
Oneida Nation disputes homes (11/20)

Copyright � 2000-2003 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:
Tribal Tribune: Unity at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's #NoDAPL camp (8/26)
Dakota Access Pipeline lacks key approval to build by reservation (8/26)
Lummi Nation sends totem pole to sacred camp in North Dakota (8/26)
Winona LaDuke: Corporate interests come to destroy our mother (8/26)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Pipeline campaign awakens our people (8/26)
Ho-Chunk citizen Sharice Davids named as a White House Fellow (8/26)
Leech Lake Band celebrates groundbreaking for new high school (8/26)
Mark Trahant: Native candidates face voters in Arizona primary (8/26)
Native Sun News: Mother charged in beating death of 2-year-old (8/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala veteran pushed for Black Elk Peak (8/26)
Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux Tribe continues to get nothing done (8/26)
Leon Matthews: Off The Rez Ramblings heads back to Pine Ridge (8/26)
Erica Pinto: Jamul Indian Village planning to debut casino 'soon' (8/26)
Harold Monteau: Tribal lending industry facing major challenges (8/26)
Winnebago Tribe becomes first with non-smoking room at casino (8/26)
Tlingit and Haida Tribes win federal approval of gaming ordinance (8/26)
Poarch Creeks won't see Class III gaming after lottery effort fails (8/26)
Dave Archambault: Why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting (8/25)
Sen. Bernie Sanders joining opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline (8/25)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chair dispels rumors about camp site (8/25)
Native Sun News: Thousands join pipeline resistance movement (8/25)
Lakota Country Times: Bill honors memory of Cheyenne woman (8/25)
John Yellow Bird Steele: A giant step forward with Black Elk Peak (8/25)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: There's more than one path to reconciliation (8/25)
Spokane Tribe hit hard as blaze destroys homes on reservation (8/25)
Hopi Tribe struggling to address high levels of arsenic in water (8/25)
Osage Nation celebrates $74M purchase of ancestral territory (8/25)
Former Navajo Nation lawmakers sentenced over fund misuse (8/25)
Ute Tribe remains busy in court with appeal in contract dispute (8/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hails bid to reconsider casino ruling (8/25)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band considers expansion project at casino (8/25)
Grand Traverse Band shares gaming funds with local community (8/25)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees strong support at pipeline hearing (8/24)
Judge takes aim at Ute Tribe after being kicked off sovereignty suit (8/24)
Lakota Country Times: County seeks compensation for trust lands (8/24)
Native Sun News: Sage remains a special plant for Native peoples (8/24)
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.