9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case

An aerial view of the Chemehuevi Reservation that shows Lake Havasu. Photo from Doc Searls / Wikipedia

The Chemehuevi Tribe of California must obtain Congressional approval to assign land to its members, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

Most tribal members were forced to leave the reservation when the federal government flooded the land in the 1940s. To lure them back home, the tribe offered assignments that were "as close to fee simple absolute as possible," according to a tribal ordinance.

The tribe submitted the assignments to the Bureau of Indian Affairs but the agency rejected them. The tribe ended up in court but the 9th Circuit said they can't be approved without the consent of Congress.

"Section 177 prohibits the 'grant, lease, or other conveyence of lands, or of any title thereto' from an Indian tribe unless approved by Congress," the court wrote, quoting from 25 USC Section 177, which implements the Nonintercourse Act of 1834. "Congress has not approved the transactions at issue here."

Turtle Talk has posted briefs from the case, Chemehuevi Tribe v. Jewell.

Get the Story:
Chemehuevi tribe must get Congress OK to deed land (The Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/18)

9th Circuit Decision:
Chemehuevi Tribe v. Jewell (September 17, 2014)

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