Brian Pierson: Omaha Tribe wins boundary case in Supreme Court


Leaders of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 20, 2016, after oral arguments in Nebraska v. Parker. Photo form Facebook

Attorney Brian Pierson discusses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Nebraska v. Parker, a reservation boundary case won by the Omaha Tribe on March 22:
In Nebraska v. Parker, 2016 WL 1092417 (U.S. 2016), the Omaha Tribe had entered into a treaty with the United States in 1865 ceding tribal lands and establishing a 300,000 acre reservation. In 1882, Congress enacted a law authorizing the Secretary of the Interior “to cause to be surveyed, if necessary, and sold” more than 50,000 acres of reservation land lying west of a right-of-way granted by the Tribe and approved by the Secretary of the Interior in 1880 for use by the Sioux City and Nebraska Railroad Company. The act provided further that after tribal members had been given the opportunity to select 160-acre allotments, the tract would be opened for settlement by non-Indians. Ultimately, just 10 to 15 tribal members selected allotments west of the right-of-way and the area was eventually settled by non-Indians, one of whom founded the Village of Pender. The act required the Secretary to deposit the proceeds of sales to non-Indians in the U.S. Treasury for the Tribe’s benefit. In 2006, the Tribe sought to subject Pender retailers to its newly amended Beverage Control Ordinance, which required retailers to obtain a liquor license, costing $500, $1,000 or $1,500 depending upon the class of license, and imposed a 10 percent sales tax on liquor sales. Nonmembers who violated the ordinance were subject to a $10,000 fine. The Village and business owners, later joined by the State of Nebraska, sued, contending that the 1882 act had diminished the reservation and that Pender was no longer within its boundaries.

Get the Story:
Brian L. Pierson: Supreme Court Decides Reservation Boundary Case in Tribe’s Favor (The National Law Review 4/12)

Supreme Court Decision:
Nebraska v. Parker (March 22, 2016)

Supreme Court Documents:
Oral Argument Transcript | 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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