Tribal Lands

News & Analysis as of

Monumental Change Announced for Alaska Native Tribes—BIA will Allow Alaskan Land to be Taken into Trust

On December 19, 2014, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the promulgation of a final rule that will allow land to be taken into trust for federally-recognized tribes in Alaska. Allowing trust lands in Alaska is a seismic...more

FERC rules tribes exempt from some energy regulation

When a Native American tribe acquires a hydroelectric power plant licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, does the project become exempt from some federal regulations? Yes, according to a FERC order...more

California Court Grants TRO Against Iipay Nation in Online Bingo Case

On December 12, 2014, Judge Anthony Battaglia of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted the State of California’s Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Iipay Nation of...more

Department of Justice Memorandum Regarding Legalization of Marijuana in Indian Country Raises More Questions Than Answers

On Thursday December 11, 2014, the press was abuzz about a just released Department of Justice memorandum titled “Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country.” Some news outlets heralded the memorandum as a...more

The Myth of the Regulatory Gap: BLM’s Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Compared to Existing State Law

For the better part of the last decade, oil and natural gas production from domestic wells has increased steadily. Technical advancements in identifying promising sources of oil and gas and extracting hydrocarbons from...more

Employment Income not Substantively Connected to a Reserve is Taxable

In Baldwin et al v the Queen, 2014 TCC 284, the Tax Court of Canada had an opportunity to consider section 87 of the Indian Act and when employment income is “situated on a reserve” for tax purposes....more

CEQA Bill to Protect Native American Cultural Resources Creates New Challenges and Opportunities for Project Applicants

On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 52 ("AB 52"), which modifies the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") to add new protections for Native American cultural resources and enhances the role of...more

Tribes Should Beware of Dissent in High Court Ruling, Lawyers Say

Native American tribes shouldn’t celebrate too heartily after a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court by the Bay Mills Indian Community, Oklahoma lawyers said. Tribal lawyers Michael McBride III with Crowe & Dunlevy and...more

Groundwater Basin Boundaries and Priorities Will Impose New Management Challenges on Local Agencies

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires that the Department of Water Resources categorize each of California’s 515 alluvial groundwater basins and subbasins as high, medium, low, or...more

Tribe’s Gamble That Casino Land Transfer Approval Not Subject to CEQA Pays Off

Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Brown, C074506 (9/24/2014) - In a recent Third District Court of Appeal published opinion, the court in Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (3rd....more

Senators Critique Proposed Federal Rules for Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands

On September 30, 2014, a block of twelve Democratic U.S. Senators presented a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), urging stricter fracking regulations. The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”),...more

Ninth Circuit Upholds TERO Requirements in Indian Country Mineral Leasing

Conducting commercial operations on tribal lands can pose significant challenges for non-Indian companies. Demonstrating sensitivity to the cultural nuances of Native American society and navigating the complex web of federal...more

Governor Signs Two New CEQA Bills

Governor Brown has signed two new bills amending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). AB 52 establishes new consultation procedures with California Native American tribes, and provides that an adverse change to a...more

Massachusetts Court Holds No Coverage Under Lawyers’ Malpractice Policy for 93A Claim

In its recent decision in Am. Guar. & Liab. Ins. Co. v. Lamond, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103117 (D. Mass. July 29, 2014), the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts had occasion to consider what portion...more

Native American Business Law Alert: Significant Tax and Applicable Law Ambiguity in Proposed Revisions for Indian Lands...

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is proposing to revise the process for obtaining and administering rights-of-way (ROWs) on Indian lands. While the proposed regulations seek to make improvements and clarifications...more

Pojoaque’s Plan to Seek an Imposed Contract: Is Interior’s Process Consistent with IGRA?

The Pueblo of Pojoaque needs a new Class III gaming compact by June 2015 in order to continue operating its casinos which are located north of Santa Fe. However, the Pueblo objected to the financial concessions being demanded...more

Gaming Legal News - June 2014 • Volume 7, Number 10

In This Issue: - INDIAN COUNTRY AWAITS 9TH CIRCUIT’S EN BANC REHEARING IN BIG LAGOON CASE: In January, a split 9th Circuit panel shocked Indian Country with its holding in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California that...more

Indian Country Awaits 9th Circuit’s En Banc Rehearing in Big Lagoon Case

In January, a split 9th Circuit panel shocked Indian Country with its holding in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. California that the State’s failure to negotiate in good faith for a tribal-state gaming compact with the Big Lagoon...more

Recent Supreme Court Decision Reaffirms Tribal Sovereign Immunity for Commercial Activities Conducted Off-Reservation

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that, absent a waiver or Congressional action to the contrary, the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity applies to lawsuits arising from a tribe’s commercial activities, even if they...more

The Wind River Reservation Treatment-as-State Controversy: How Confusion Undermines Opportunities for Cooperative Governance

Under certain statutes, tribes can exercise civil jurisdiction over non-Indians. For instance, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act allows tribes to pursue claims for natural resource...more

BIA Proposes Rule Revisions for Rights-of-Way on Indian Lands

On June 17, 2014, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published proposed revisions to 25 CFR Part 169, whereby the new rule seeks to comprehensively update and streamline the process for obtaining BIA grants of Rights-of-Way...more

Recent Supreme Court Decision Bars State from Suing Tribe Seeking to Operate an Illegal Off-Reservation Casino

On May 27, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), states may only sue to enjoin a tribe from conducting class III gaming “on Indian lands.” Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty., 2014...more

The corridor of uncertainty diminishes following another pro international arbitration judgment from the Indian Supreme Court

For international parties who have contracted with Indian counterparties and agreed to refer disputes to international arbitration, a critical issue is the degree to which the Indian courts have jurisdiction to review and set...more

U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms the Doctrine of Tribal Sovereign Immunity in Bay Mills Decision

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision, highly anticipated by Indian tribes and Indian law practitioners, in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, et al. In a 5-4 split, the Court reaffirmed the doctrine of...more

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community et al.

The U.S. Supreme Court (“Court”) issued a 5-4 decision Tuesday in a case with implications for Tribal-State relations and the resolution of disputes under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq....more

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