Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

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The Department of Children and Family Services filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 300(b)(1) and (j)), alleging Deshawn’s and Clairessa’s history of substance abuse and current use of marijuana placed one-year-old Y.W., and one-month-old Y.G., at risk of serious physical harm. At the jurisdiction and disposition hearing, the juvenile court sustained the petition and declared the children. dependents of the court, removed them from parental custody, and ordered the parents to complete substance abuse and domestic violence programs and to have monitored visitation with the children. At a hearing to select a permanent plan, the juvenile court terminated their parental rights, finding that returning the children to the parents would be detrimental, that the parents had not maintained regular and consistent visitation and contact, and that the children were adoptable.Based on the parents’ allegation that the Department failed to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901, the court of appeal conditionally affirm the orders terminating parental rights, with directions to ensure the Department complies with the inquiry and notice provisions of ICWA and related California law. Deshawn and Clairessa had each completed Judicial Council form ICWA-020, Parental Notification of Indian Status. Clairessa checked: “I have no Indian ancestry as far as I know.” Deshawn checked: “I am or may be a member of, or eligible for membership in, a federally recognized Indian tribe. View "In re Y.W." on Justia Law

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After the Tribe refused to pay Findleton for construction work and rental services provided for a casino it was building and infrastructure for the reservation, Findleton invoked the ADR provisions of the agreements. The Tribe refused to mediate. Findleton filed a petition, seeking to compel mediation and arbitration.The court of appeal held the Tribe had expressly waived its sovereign immunity. The trial court entered an order compelling mediation and arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the firm chosen by the Tribe. The Tribe nonetheless refused to mediate, threatened to disparage AAA if it proceeded, and persuaded a recently-established tribal court to issue an injunction. AAA then declined to mediate the dispute.The superior court awarded Findleton attorney fees and costs and imposed monetary sanctions—none of which the Tribe has paid. It issued writs of execution and orders to appear for examination. The Tribe’s representatives repeatedly refused to answer questions about casino assets, impeded the examination by filling the room with tribal members who engaged in a vocal demonstration, and transferred casino assets to a corporate entity—the superior court found a fraudulent transfer.The Tribe sought to appeal the orders. The court of appeal dismissed the appeals, citing the disentitlement doctrine based on the Tribe’s flagrant, repeated, and continuous violation of court orders. View "Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs obtained short-term, high-interest loans from lenders owned by the Tribes. The standard loan contracts contained an agreement to arbitrate any dispute arising under the contract and a delegation provision requiring an arbitrator—not a court—to decide “any issue concerning the validity, enforceability, or scope of [the loan] agreement or [arbitration agreement].” The contracts stated that they were governed by tribal law and that an arbitrator must apply tribal law. Plaintiffs filed class-action RICO complaints against the Tribal Lenders. The district court denied the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration, reasoning that the arbitration agreement as a whole in each contract was unenforceable because it prospectively waived plaintiffs’ right to pursue federal statutory claims by requiring arbitrators to apply tribal law.The Ninth Circuit reversed. Rather than asking first whether the arbitration agreement was enforceable as a whole, the court must consider first the enforceability of the delegation provision specifically. The delegation provision was enforceable because it did not preclude plaintiffs from arguing to an arbitrator that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable under the prospective-waiver doctrine. The general enforceability issue must, therefore, be decided by an arbitrator. The choice-of-law provisions were not to the contrary because they did not prevent plaintiffs from pursuing their prospective-waiver enforcement challenge in arbitration. View "Brice v. Plain Green, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2017, Andeavor agreed with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, to renew the right-of-way over tribal lands, and to pay trespass damages for continued operation of an oil pipeline after expiration. Andeavor then began renewal negotiations with individual Indian landowners. In 2018, the Allottees filed a putative class action seeking compensatory and punitive damages for ongoing trespass and injunctive relief requiring Andeavor to dismantle the pipeline. The district court granted Andeavor's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Allottees failed to exhaust administrative remedies with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).The Eighth Circuit concluded that the case turns on issues sufficiently within the primary jurisdiction of the BIA to warrant a stay, rather than dismissal, to give the BIA opportunity to take further action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The court denied the Allottees' motion to dismiss Robin Fredericks as a plaintiff. View "Chase v. Andeavor Logistics, L.P." on Justia Law

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J.B. appealed a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her two children. She argued there was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to support the court’s determination under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that continued custody by J.B. was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the children. Retaining jurisdiction under N.D.R.App.P. 35(a)(3), the North Dakota Supreme Court remanded to the juvenile court for detailed findings under ICWA, allowing for additional testimony from the qualified expert witness if necessary to make the required findings. After receiving additional testimony, the district court made additional findings, denied the petition to terminate J.B.’s parental rights, and ordered the children be removed from J.B.’s custody for nine months. No party requested additional briefing or argument following the order on remand. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court order. View "Interest of K.B." on Justia Law

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After determining that it had appellate jurisdiction, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order concluding that the National Indian Gaming Commission correctly determined that the Ponca Restoration Act does not preclude gambling on a parcel of land in Iowa that is held in trust by the United States for the Tribe because the land is eligible as part of the restoration of lands for an Indian tribe that is restored to federal recognition. However, because the Commission failed to consider a relevant factor in evaluating whether the parcel is restored land for the Tribe, the court remanded to the Commission for further consideration. View "City of Council Bluffs v. U.S. Department of the Interior" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded the order of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights in her child, holding that, while the trial court properly applied North Carolina law in terminating Mother's parental rights, the case is remanded for further proceedings to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.After a termination hearing, the trial court entered can order concluding that grounds existed to terminate Mother's rights in her child pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1)(2), and (3). Mother appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the trial court failed to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in determining that Mother's parental rights were subject to termination pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(2); and (2) because the determination of whether there was reason to know the child was an Indian child could not be made on the record, a remand was required. View "In re A.L." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment declaring that the United States has a duty to provide "competent physician-led healthcare" to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and its members. In light of the promises the United States made to the Tribe more than 150 years ago in the Fort Laramie Treaty, and relevant legislation since that time, such as the Snyder Act and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the district court correctly articulated the existence and scope of the duty and declaratory judgment was proper. View "Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. United States" on Justia Law

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Cook Inlet Tribal Council, representing federally recognized tribes in Alaska, opened an alcohol recovery center through a contract with the Indian Health Service. The Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. 5321, requires that the Service pay the secretarial amount, a negotiated sum that cannot be less than what the Service would have spent on the program if it directly provided care, and pay contract support costs to reimburse tribes for expenses the Service does not incur when it runs the program, like workers’ compensation premiums.In 1992, the Service agreed to pay the Council $150,000; $11,838.50 paid for facility costs (rent and a partial salary for a facilities coordinator) as expenses the Service would have incurred if it ran the recovery center. The Service paid the facility costs from the secretarial amount. In 2014, the Council received $2,000,000 from the Service. In 2014, the Council unsuccessfully proposed to add $400,000 in annual facility costs to be paid as contract support costs to supplement secretarial funds already applied to facility costs. The Council did not request an increase in the annual secretarial amount to cover the unfunded facility costs.The district court awarded judgment to the Council. The D.C. Circuit reversed. The Act does not require the government to pay contract support costs for expenses the Service normally pays when it runs a health program. Those expenses are eligible for reimbursement only under the secretarial amount. View "Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. v. Mandregan" on Justia Law

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The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and the Samish Indian Nation have been disputing the Treaty of Point Elliott for decades. The Snoqualmie sought a declaration that it is a signatory to the Treaty and that its reserved off-reservation hunting and gathering rights under the Treaty continue. Prior litigation has involved fishing rights. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit on issue preclusion grounds. Prior appeals, 40 years ago, resolved that the Snoqualmie is not a treaty tribe under the Treaty. Treaty-tribe status is established when a group of Indians is “descended from a treaty signatory” and has “maintained an organized tribal structure.” The Snoqualmie Tribe, though descended from a treaty-signatory tribe, has not maintained an organized tribal structure and is not entitled to exercise rights under the Treaty because it lacks treaty-tribe status. View "Snoqualmie Indian Tribe v. Washingtonx" on Justia Law