Court upholds Narragansett land-into-trust

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld the right of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island to follow the land-into-trust process.

By a 4-2 vote, an en banc panel of the court said nothing in federal law bars the Bureau of Indian Affairs from acquiring new lands in trust for the tribe. The state had argued that the tribe was forever limited to the reservation that was defined by its land claims settlement act.

"While the state apparently failed to anticipate this particular problem at the time of the settlement, the Settlement Act did specifically contemplate the event of federal recognition of the Tribe and did not restrict the [Interior] Secretary's power, should the Tribe be recognized, to take into trust land outside of the settlement lands," Judge Sandra L. Lynch wrote for the majority. "We are not free to reform the Act. If aggrieved, the State must turn to Congress."

The decision marks the second time the 1st Circuit has ruled for the tribe. The state asked for a rehearing and can now take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The tribe intends to use the land at issue in the case for housing. But the new land won't fall under state civil or criminal jurisdiction -- unlike the tribe's reservation.

Get the Decision:
Carcieri v. Kempthorne (July 20, 2007)

Earlier 1st Circuit Decision:
Carcieri v. Norton (February 9, 2005)

Relevant Documents:
Carcieri v. Norton Briefs, Opinions (NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project

Relevant Laws:
Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act (US Code)

Relevant Links:
Narragansett Tribe -
Tribal Supreme Court Project -

Related Stories
Appeals court hears land-into-trust dispute (1/10)
Appeals court to hear land-into-trust case (1/8)
Appeals court to rehear land-into-trust dispute (12/07)
High court rejects state raid, land claim (11/28)
Supreme Court won't hear land-into-trust cases (10/3)
Court subjects Narragansett Tribe to all state laws (05/25)
Appeals court hears tribal-state sovereignty dispute (12/07)
Narragansett Tribe back in court over sovereignty (12/6)
Rhode Island set to appeal trust land decision (09/16)
Trust land challenge rejected by appeals court (9/14)
Appeals court agrees to rehear sovereignty case (07/11)
Tribal sovereignty must be respected, court rules (05/13)
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute (02/10)
Court won't rehear challenge to tribal land base (05/21)
Massachusetts court deals blow to tribe's sovereignty (12/10)
R.I. tribe takes smokeshop case to higher court (01/27)
R.I. to appeal Narragansett land-into-trust case (10/1)
Judge affirms Narragansett Tribe land-into-trust (9/30)
State's raid on tribal land sparks strong reactions (07/16)
Court says U.S. can protect tribe's interests (02/04)
Land still in limbo after decade-long fight (10/16)
The day the Supreme Court said no (10/16)