Leaders of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, cut the ribbon on an expansion of the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan, on May 3, 2017. From left: council member Jeff Martin, council member Jennie Pearl Heeren, council member Phyllis Davis, Chairman Scott Sprague, Vice-Chairman Ed Pigeon, Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority CEO John Shagonaby and Council Member Jodie Palmer. Photo courtesy Gun Lake Tribe

Gun Lake Tribe shares oral arguments with Trump team in Supreme Court case

Things are shaping as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for its first Indian law case of the term.

Oral arguments in Patchak v. Zinke take place on November 7. The justices will be hearing from the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, and the Trump administration, as attorneys for the two parties were granted permission to present a "divided argument" in an order issued on Tuesday.

The tribe and Department of Justice will be defending the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act. The 2014 law protects the Gun Lake Casino from litigation by ensuring that the site of the facility in Michigan is held in trust.

The lower courts so far have affirmed the law. But a different outcome at the Supreme Court could prevent Congress from taking action in similar land disputes.

"Land held in trust by the United States for the benefit of Indian tribes plays a critical role in tribal self-government and economic development," a brief submitted by the National Congress of American Indians, the largest inter-tribal organization, reads. "Trust lands support all aspects of tribal life, from the provision of government and health care services to the protection of natural resources to energy development."

Patchak is currently only Indian law case on the court's docket. The Tribal Supreme Court Project, a joint initiative of NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund, is monitoring petitions in a dozen more cases in the event they are added to the docket.

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Patchak v. Jewell (July 15, 2016)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision:
Patchak v. Jewell (June 18, 2012)

Prior D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Patchak v. Salazar (January 21, 2011)

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