Federal judge backs Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate land-into-trust bid

The Bureau of Indian Affairs can acquire land in trust for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of South Dakota, a federal judge ruled.

The tribe submitted its land-into-trust application in 2001. The BIA superintendent on the reservation, who happened to be a former tribal chairman, approved the request in early 2007.

The state of South Dakota, two local governments and the local school district sued the BIA and said superintendent Russell Hawkins should have recused himself because he is a tribal member and a former tribal leader. But Judge Roberto A. Lange said there was no evidence of bias by Hawkins or the BIA.

The state also raised challenges to the constitutionality of the Indian Reorganization Act, an issue that has been raised in numerous lawsuits across the nation. Lange again said the plaintiffs failed to prove their case.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, South Dakota v. Salazar.

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