H.R.3977 – To amend the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 to extend the jurisdiction of tribal courts to cover crimes involving sexual violence, and for other purposes.

Introduced by Rep. Haaland.


Udall Requests Kavanaugh Records on Native American Issues

From the press release:

Udall Requests Kavanaugh Records on Native American Issues

Seeks all records pertaining to Kavanaugh’s involvement with Native American issues during tenure as Staff Secretary and White House Counsel

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, formally requested all records pertaining to Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s involvement with Native American issues during his tenure as White House Staff Secretary and as White House Counsel.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Udall asked Grassley to turn over all records under his control pertaining to Kavanaugh’s work on Indian Affairs issues. Udall also asked that Grassley request all records from the National Archives regarding Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary and White House Counsel related to Native American matters.

“Decisions made by the Supreme Court have a significant impact on nearly all aspects of the everyday lives of Native Americans,” Udall wrote. “In the past few years alone, the Supreme Court has ruled on cases that further defined the contours of the United States’ government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes, including: the extent to which an Indian Tribe’s treaty with the United States protects its subsistence practices from state intrusion; the scope of an Indian Tribe’s sovereign immunity; and the scope and extent of a Tribal member’s parental rights over a Native American child.”

“The Supreme Court’s influence is particularly acute in Indian Country, given the United States’ treaty and trust responsibility,” Udall continued. “So that members of this Committee—and the entire Senate—may adequately consider Judge Kavanaugh’s views on Indian Affairs issues, I respectfully request that you make available to me and my staff all records that pertain to Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement with Native American affairs while serving at the White House as Staff Secretary and as White House Counsel.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

DOI Consultation Notice on DOI Reorganization

Download(PDF): Tribal Listening Sessions on E.O. 13871: Reorganization of the Executive Branch

Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Michael S. Black, invites Tribal leaders to attend one of the listed listening sessions to provide input on improving “efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability” at the Department of the Interior.


Indian Country Investigation & Prosecutions Report to Congress

Link to DOJ report for 2014 here.


  • FBI’s CY 2014 statistics are similar to 2013. The majority of Indian country criminal investigations opened by the FBI were referred for prosecution.
  • The majority of Indian country criminal cases opened by the USAOs were
  • The most common reason FBI Indian country investigations were closed administratively without referral for prosecution was that the investigation concluded that no federal crime had occurred. Analysis of CY 2014 data indicates that 657 FBI Indian country investigations were closed administratively without referral to a prosecuting authority — approximately 32% of the investigations that were opened. Reasons for non-referral include deaths determined to be the result of natural causes, accident, or suicide (i.e., non-homicides; 20% in CY 2014 of all investigations not referred), and insufficient evidence of criminal activity (21% in CY 2014).
  • All but 37 of the 148 death investigations that the FBI closed administratively in CY 2014 were closed because the FBI established that the death was due to causes other than homicide; i.e., accidents, suicide, or death due to natural causes.
  • In 2014, the USAOs resolved more cases than in 2013. In 2014, the USAOs resolved 535 more cases than in 2013. A total of 3,930 Indian country matters were resolved in CY 2014, as compared to 3,395 cases in 2013.
  • The USAO declination rate remained steady. USAO data for CY 2014 show that 34% (989) of all Indian country submissions for prosecution (2,941) were declined. In CY 2013, USAOs declined approximately 34% (853) of all (2,542) Indian country submissions for prosecution. USAO data for CY 2012 indicate that just under 31% (954) of all Indian country submissions for prosecution (2,542) were declined.
  • The most common reason for declination by USAOs was insufficient evidence (59.6% in CY 2014, 56% in CY 2013, and 52% in CY 2012). The next most common reason for declination by USAOs was referral to another prosecuting authority (16.3% in CY 2014, 21% in CY 2013, and 24% in CY 2012).

President’s Memo Outlines New Environmental Policy

Link to Memorandum here.

The Obama Administration advised the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, EPA, and NOAA to avoid harming the environment by ensuring, at minimum, a “no net loss goal” for natural resources deemed important, scarce, or sensitive.  The Departments will forgo development of resources deemed “irreplaceable.”

The new policy requires federal regulators to evaluate every proposed natural resource project from a large-scale context, including water-shed and landscape impacts.  Going forward, the government’s policy will be to protect the environment by foreseeing and mitigating any damage ahead of time.  The Departments have been given a time table for finalizing mitigation mechanisms and guidance.

This is the latest episode in a controversy over energy developments in Indian Country.  Republicans in Congress are attempting to enact a law that would speed up energy development on Tribal lands after a GAO report criticized the 2005 federal process for transferring management of energy development to Tribes that has not resulted in any agreements (TERAs).

Wall Street Journal Article on ICWA Lawsuits


PDF copy here.

From the end of the article:

An Interior spokeswoman said Congress has determined it “is in the best interests of an Indian child to keep that child…with the child’s parents,” extended family and tribal community.

Kathryn Fort, a lawyer with the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University, defends the law and the guidelines. Ms. Fort said that before the law was passed, social workers would argue that it was in the “best interests” of an Indian child to be permanently removed from a house that was merely messy or lacked the most modern conveniences. “It’s really a way of allowing—and perpetuating—discrimination against Indians,” she said.

Supporters of the law say the adoption delays often required are part of its point. The law “demands excellence in how we treat Indian children,” said Matthew Newman, a staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. “That often requires a bit of time.”