Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law

A view of the Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. Photo from National Park Service

Attorney Brian Pierson reviews some recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law:
In Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Seneca County, N.Y., 2014 WL 3746795 (2d. Cir. 2014), the Cayuga Indian Nation had refused to pay taxes on land that had been alienated in the early 19th century in violation of the Indian Non-Intercourse Act but reacquired by the nation in the modern era and held in fee simple title.

In Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. United States, 2014 WL 3360472 (5th Cir. 2014), the Tribe sued various Department of Agriculture agencies, challenging the National Park Service’s issuance of permits to drill for oil or gas in the Big Thicket National Preserve; (2) the Forest Service’s issuance of drilling permits for privately owned mineral estates located under the Sam Houston and Davy Crockett National Forests; (3) the Bureau of Land Management’s issuance of oil and gas leases for land in the Sam Houston and Davy Crockett National Forests, and the collection of royalties and rent payments from these leases; and (4) the National Forest Service’s exploitation and sale of timber resources from the Davy Crockett and Sam Houston National Forests.

In U.S. v. Whiteagle, 2014 WL 3562716 (7th Cir. 2014), Timothy Whiteagle was convicted of 12 federal offenses under 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 371 and 666, including conspiracy, corruption, bribery, tax evasion and perjury, arising out of his scheme to bribe Pettibone, a Ho-Chunk nation legislator, into using his influence to cause the nation to award tribal business to three different vendors that had hired Whiteagle.

In Narula v. Delbert Services Corporation, _____ F.Supp.2d ___, (E.D. Mich. 2014), Narula had borrowed $5,000 from Western Sky Financial, LLC (Western Sky), a reservation-based payday lender. Western Sky transferred the loan to Delbert Services Corporation. After defaulting, Narula sued in federal court, alleging that the loan violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Delbert contended that the plaintiff was required by the loan agreement to arbitrate her claims and, further, that the loan agreement provided for exclusive jurisdiction in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Court.

Get the Story:
Brian L. Pierson: Indian Nations Law Focus - August 2014 (National Law Review 8/18)

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