Legal group behind voting rights case known as 'Indian fighters'

A legal group with ties to conservative Republicans continues to fight the voting rights of tribal members in Wyoming.

Mountain States Legal Foundation is representing Fremont County in an Indian voting rights dispute. The group lost the case but hopes to overturn a ruling that would give members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe more representation in local government.

Mountain States is "trying to make sure that our voice isn't heard, and trying to make sure that we don't have any weight in the county," plaintiff Patricia Bergie, who sits on the Eastern Shoshone tribal council, told the Associated Press.

The group declined to talk to the AP about the case. But it has represented other counties in Indian voting rights lawsuits, fought protections for sacred sites, opposed subsistence rights for Alaska Natives and has represented clients who opposed tribal sovereignty.

"If you look at the way things were in the 1950s ... the communities out there that were white communities kind of did what they wanted to do," Jack Trope, the executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, told the AP. "That's the kind of world they want to go back to."

Former Interior secretary Gale Norton and former Interior secretary James Watt worked for Mountain States.

Get the Story:
Indians question Colo. firm's motives in vote case (AP 12/2)

Lawsuit Documents:
Large v. Fremont County (ACLU)

Related Stories:
Editorial: County should stop discrimination against Indian vote (11/16)
Wyoming county proceeds with appeal in Indian voting rights suit (11/5)
Costs for Indian voting rights lawsuit in Wyoming pass $1M mark (9/27)
Wyoming county files notice of appeal in Indian voting rights case (09/07)
WyoFile: Voting rights a case of discrimination on reservation (8/12)
Wyoming county to appeal decision in Indian voting rights lawsuit (8/26)
Wyoming county ordered to draw districts in Indian voting case (8/11)
Judge promises ruling in Indian voting rights lawsuit in Wyoming (7/28)
Wyoming county submits plans in Indian voting rights lawsuit (6/25)
Judge won't allow county to avoid Indian voting rights ruling (6/11)
County delaying election after losing Indian voting lawsuit (6/3)
Editorial: County should follow Indian voting rights decision (6/1)
Plaintiffs in voting rights case seek district for reservation (5/4)
Editorial: Wyoming Indians win major voting rights ruling (5/3)