:President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians. Photo: NCAI

National Congress of American Indians praises win in homelands case

The National Congress of American Indians is congratulating the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, for its victory at the U.S. Supreme Court.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that Congress can protect the tribe's homelands from from litigation. The ruling in Patchak v. Zinke ends a long-running lawsuit that had questioned the status of the Gun Lake Casino in Michigan.

“Congratulations to the Gun Lake Tribe for this important legal decision,” NCAI President Jefferson Keel said on Tuesday. “All tribes need a land base as a homeland for their people, and the Supreme Court confirmed the Gun Lake Tribe’s base today. The tribe demonstrated great perseverance and we are heartened by this outcome.”

As part of the Tribal Supreme Court Project, NCAI participated in the case. A brief stressed the importance of homelands to economic development, self-governance and self-determination.

"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," NCAI wrote in the brief.

Attorneys who work on the Tribal Supreme Court Project, a joint effort of NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund, are paying attention to two more cases on the docket. Oral arguments in Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Lundgren, another land dispute, take place on March 21, and will be followed by Washington v. U.S., a treaty rights case, on April 18.

"It's been one of the busiest years ever," John Dossett, NCAI's general counsel, said during the organization's winter session in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in Patchak v. Zinke

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Patchak v. Zinke:
Syllabus | Judgment [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Concurrence [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Sotomayor] | Dissent [Roberts] | Full Document: Patchak v. Zinke

More U.S. Supreme Court Documents:
Oral Argument Transcript | Docket Sheet No. 16-498 | Questions Presented

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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