United States Accepts Concurrent Jurisdiction Over Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Department of Justice Press Release here.

The decision will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.  Tribal, state and county prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will also continue to have criminal jurisdiction on the reservation.

“We believe this decision – made after a careful review of the tribe’s application and the facts on the ground – will strengthen public safety and the criminal justice system serving the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates.  “This is another step forward in the Justice Department’s commitment to serve and protect American Indian and Alaska Native communities, to deal with them on a government-to-government basis and to fulfill the historic promise of the Tribal Law and Order Act.  Strong law enforcement partnerships with the Tribe, as well as state and local counterparts, will be essential to the success of this effort.”

Mille Lacs is the second tribe to be granted concurrent jurisdiction under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. White Earth received concurrent jurisdiction status in 2013.

1855 Treaty Authority Members Issued Citations

A group of individuals from Ojibwe nations in Minnesota known as the “1855 Treaty Authority” staged a wild rice harvesting gathering in Nisswa, Minnesota on Hole-in-the-day Lake on August 27, 2015. The location is outside of current reservation boundaries, but within the territory ceded by the 1855 Treaty with the Chippewa. The group is asserting that because the 1855 Treaty did not specifically remove hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on the ceded territory, those rights still exist for tribal members off-reservation.

The Minnesota DNR issued one-day permits to diffuse tensions, but several members of the Treaty Authority continued to rice and gillnet the following day, and were issued citations for gillnetting without a permit. The final decision to formally charge the members with gross misdemeanors and bring the case to court is still forthcoming from the Crow Wing county attorney.

In 1999, the Supreme Court upheld the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s 1837 Treaty right to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded lands after determining that the 1855 Treaty did not extinguish those usufructuary rights. The Mille Lacs case did not decide whether the 1855 Treaty itself preserved off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights for other tribes in Minnesota.

The 1855 Treaty Authority previously attempted to get this issue into federal court in 2010, but the DNR did not issue any citations at that point.

Press release from the 1855 Treaty Authority here.

Letter to Minnesota’s governor here.

Response from Minnesota DNR here.

Previous coverage here.

30 Year Maximum “Take” FWS Rule Struck Down

Judge Koh (N.D. Calif.) set aside and remanded the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Final 30-Year Rule that extended the maximum duration of permits to take bald and golden eagles from five years to thirty years. The order states that the FWS failed to demonstrate that neither an EIS nor EA was needed for this twenty-five year extension.

The motion for summary judgment was granted for all NEPA claims, denied in part due to unsubstantiated (two sentences) ESA claims.

Order here.

Original complaint and previous coverage here.

Complaint and TRO in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Burwell


Opening sentences:

The Tribe brings this action against the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and its agency, the Indian Health Service (“IHS”) seeking redress for their decision to use $1.6 million in funds appropriated for the Pine Ridge Service Unit, which provides health services to tribal members and other Indian beneficiaries, to fund a settlement of overtime pay that the IHS reached with unions. The IHS intends to use these funds to pay for the settlement even though the funds are required by law to be used to make improvements in the programs of the IHS operated by or through the Pine Ridge Service Unit which may be necessary to achieve or maintain compliance with the applicable conditions and requirements of Medicare and Medicaid.

Motion for TRO.


AILC 8th Annual Tribal Leadership Conference

The American Indian Law Center will be holding its 8th Annual Tribal Leadership Conference: Transitions, September 22-23, 2015 in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM.

This conference invites all tribal leaders, key tribal administrators, tribal court judges, and court administrators and clerks to participate, learn, and share experiences on federal, state, and local issues important to tribal nations.

Register by September 16; discounted hotel rooms available until September 1. A full agenda will be available soon.

Registration form and hotel information available here.

AILS Transitions 2015

Crowe & Dunlevy Seek Experienced Indian Law & Gaming Attorney

Crowe & Dunlevy, one of Oklahoma’s oldest and largest law firms with offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, seeks an attorney with 7-9 years of experience to serve in our expanding Indian Law & Gaming practice group. The firm’s Indian Law & Gaming practice group serves numerous tribal governments and their entities and organizations, as well as international gaming companies.

Full application and more information available here.

Possible Hate Crime Motive in Fatal Wyoming Shooting

In late July, two Northern Arapaho men were shot while inside an alcohol and drug detox facility in Riverton, Wyoming. The FBI has started an investigation into a possible hate crime motive for the fatal shooting. Wyoming is one of only five states not to have a hate crime charge.

Full story here.

DOJ Office of Tribal Justice Deputy Director Opening

Closes August 19, application here.


As Deputy Director, partners with the Director in component-level leadership responsibilities, including policy- and program-related decision making, organizational development, strategic planning, and representation of the Office of Tribal Justice and the Department of Justice.

Incumbent advises the Director of the Office of Tribal Justice and senior Department of Justice leadership on significant tribal justice matters; participates in policy and legislative development and review; and represents the Office of Tribal Justice and the Department in meetings and conferences within and outside the Department.

Advises Department of Justice components litigating, protecting, or otherwise addressing Native American rights and/or related issues.

Confers and coordinates with attorneys and officials of the Department of Justice, other government agencies, and interested parties to provide guidance and advice to ensure compliance with statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements.

Maintains liaison with federally recognized tribes, and works with the appropriate federal, tribal, state, and local officials, professional associations, and public interest groups.