Omaha Tribe lands in Supreme Court in reservation boundary case

Members of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska participate in Spiritual Ride on January 16, 2016. Photo from Facebook

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Nebraska v. Parker, a reservation diminishment case affecting the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, on Wednesday.

The dispute arose after the tribe implemented a liquor tax. Non-Indian businesses in the village of Pender refused to submit because they claim their community was removed from the reservation by an act of Congress in 1882.

A federal judge and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and sided with the tribe. Those rulings could be overturned by the Supreme Court but Chairman Vernon Miller, who is in Washington, D.C, for the oral arguments, remains confident.

“The tribe has always had jurisdiction within the boundaries of the reservation," Miller told Net Nebraska. “Before the state of Nebraska was a state, our tribe has always been here. It has always been our land. The village was founded on a reservation.”


Indianz.Com SoundCloud: 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Arguments in Smith v. Parker

In advance of the hearing, the tribe held a Spiritual Ride on Saturday. Tribal members rode 21 miles from Macy, the location of tribal headquarters, to Pender to show solidarity for the cause.

The Lincoln Indian Center in Lincoln is also showing support by burning a sacred flame all day on Wednesday. A sweat will be held later in the afternoon, according to the organization's Facebook page.

The court has set aside one hour for arguments. James D. Smith, the Solicitor General of Nebraska, will represent the state and the non-Indian interests.


Members of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska participate in Spiritual Ride on January 16, 2016. Photo from Facebook

Paul D. Clement, a former Solicitor General of the United States who is now in private practice, will represent the tribal council and will share the argument with Allon Kedem of the Department of Justice. The Obama administration is backing the tribe in the case.

The transcript of the argument will be posted by the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon. Audio will be posted on Friday.

The Supreme Court's last reservation diminishment case was South Dakota v. Yankton Sioux Tribe from 1998. In a unanimous decision, the justices held reservation of the Yankton Sioux Tribe was diminished by an act of Congress in 1894.

Get the Story:
U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments of Nebraska tribal land case (Nebraska Radio Network 1/19)
Century-old boundary dispute brings Omaha Tribe before US Supreme Court (Net Nebraska 1/18)
Omaha Tribe travels 21 miles on spiritual ride (KTIV 1/16)
Pender case to go before U.S. Supreme Court (The Norfolk Daily News 1/16)

Supreme Court Documents:
Docket Sheet No. 14-1406 | Questions Presented | Hearing List: January 2016

8th Circuit Decision:
Smith v. Parker (December 19, 2014)

Federal Court Documents:
Status Report [Includes tribal court decision] | Court Order

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