Tenth Circuit Rules in Favor of Jemez Pueblo’s Aboriginal Rights Suit re: Valles Caldera

Here is the opinion in Pueblo of Jemez v. United States.

An excerpt:

In our circuit, both before and after Jemez I, the Jemez Pueblo could lose its established aboriginal title to Banco Bonito only if its title had been extinguished or abandoned. And the district court concluded that neither of those conditions had occurred. So in accordance with longstanding Supreme Court precedent, and by the district court’s findings, the Jemez Pueblo still has aboriginal title to Banco Bonito.

Links to briefs and lower court materials here.

Mills and Nie on the Past, Present, and Potential Future of Tribal Co-Management on Federal Public Lands

Monte Mills and Martin Nie have posted “Bridges to a New Era: A Report on the Past, Present, and Potential Future of Tribal Co-Management on Federal Public Lands” on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Deep ancestral and traditional connections tie many Native Nations to the federal government’s public lands. The removal of these lands from indigenous control, their acquisition by the federal government, and the federal government’s approach to their management are largely premised upon the erasure or marginalization of those connections. Both physically and legally, Indian tribes have been removed from the landscapes they occupied since time immemorial. Rather than centering, honoring, and using those connections, the current discussion of tribal co-management of federal public lands is mostly bereft of this full legal and historical context.

Compounding these limitations is the considerable discretion enabled by the applicable legal framework and exercised by public land management agencies. This discretion is most often used in ways that place Indian tribes in a reactive and defensive position. Furthermore, in exercising that discretion, federal public land management agencies regularly disassociate their land management activities from their interactions with tribes, viewing the former as a priority and the latter as an additional burden or only ancillary to their mission. In order to reconnect the management of public lands to the broader legal and historical context, these agencies must be compelled—through statute or Executive action—to work with tribes on a co management basis, in the same manner as they are compelled to fulfill their other obligations and priorities in managing and protecting the lands for which they are responsible.

Furthermore, federal public land law generally provides to state governments and private interests broad powers and authorities not yet extended to Indian tribes. The intergovernmental dimensions of federal public lands management must more fully recognize the federal government’s fiduciary obligations to Indian tribes and include sovereign tribal governments. The common tools used in “cooperative federalism” can help inform the design of tribal co-management legislation and/or rulemaking.

Time for the Corned Indian again

Nevada Tribes Sue Interior over Lithium Mine Approvals

Here is the complaint in Reno-Sparks Indian Colony v. Haaland (N. Nev.):

Kristen Carpenter on Human Rights and Cultural Property

Kristen A. Carpenter has posted “A Human Rights Approach to Cultural Property: Repatriating the Yaqui Maaso Kova,” forthcoming in the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Claims for repatriation of cultural property are emerging across the international community, with increasing attention to the inequities of acquisitions made during colonial periods. Yet the State-centric nature of legal instruments, such as the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970, remains a stumbling block to advancing meaningful remedies for past harms, especially in the Indigenous Peoples’ context. States often pursue repatriation to advance national identity or replenish museum collections, but for Indigenous Peoples, repatriation often has to do with restoring dignity to ancestors through reburial, returning ceremonial objects to religious use, and healing the community from cultural assimilation and oppression. Against this backdrop, the essay reviews the recent case of the Yaqui People, an Indigenous nation spanning the U.S.-Mexico border, who negotiated a pathbreaking agreement to repatriate a sacred deer head, the Maaso Kova, from the national museums of Sweden. Working with the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the parties expressly invoked the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, along with Yaqui and Swedish law, as bases for repatriation. The Yaqui-Sweden matter advances a human rights approach to repatriation that begins to transcend the hegemony of States in cultural property claims, while recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ equality and self-determination, along with religious and cultural freedoms.

Buena Vista Rancheria Brings Federal Common Law Nuisance Action against Surface Lands Strip Mining Company

Here is the complaint in Buena Vista Rancheria of the Me-Wuk Indians v. Pacific Coast Building Products Inc. (E.D. Cal.):

Amicus Briefs in the Ninth Circuit En Banc Stage of Apache Stronghold v. United States

Here is the fantastic amicus brief on behalf of tribes and tribal orgs written by April Youpee-Roll at Munger and Jason Searle and Beth Wright at NARF:

Here are the other briefs:

Mennonite Amicus Brief

Mormon Church Amicus Brief

Protect the First Amicus Brief

Religious Liberty Scholars Amicus Briefs

Sikh Amicus Brief

Prior post here.

Greg Bigler on Euchee Legal Traditions

Gregory Bigler has posted “7000 Dzo-Gaw-law (Ancestors)” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

I read Stories from the Euchee Reservation on a plane. I read it cover to cover, I was as if emerging from a dream in which animals and humans understand one another and spirits come to visit over a cup of coffee.

Judge Bigler is a Euchee tribal citizen and a member of Polecat Ceremonial Grounds, a Harvard Law School graduate, longtime district court judge at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He co-counselled Indian law cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, mentored generations of Indian law attorneys, published law review articles.

Yet as Judge Bigler’s stories make clear, Indian people are keeping their traditions alive, listening to their chiefs, speaking Indigenous languages, and navigating contemporary circumstances: sending gossipy texts at the stomp grounds, wolf eating tofu in the forest, or teasing academics about their decolonizing methodologies. Shaw-jane, Mr. Rabbit, remains popular even after many years on the Indian story circuit.

This is a world, real life, for the people who keep the fire, the towns, the ballgames, and dances alive day in and day out, carrying out the ways of their people. These are cultural traditions handed down from generation to generation, suppressed for hundreds of years, still surviving today. Even if only with maybe a few hundred traditional practitioners.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the 2020 case of Jimcy McGirt v. State of Oklahoma that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation remains a reservation, “Indian Country” for purposes of federal criminal jurisdiction. The McGirt decision, means the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government has jurisdiction over a significant portion of northeast Oklahoma.

What law now applies in the reservation? Federal and tribal law, perhaps state law by agreement or statute? What is tribal law exactly? The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the right of tribes to exist as distinct peoples with their own “laws, customs, and traditions.” It recognizes their rights to maintain their religious sites, indigenous languages, sacred plants, traditional medicines – or as Natives put it, the Declaration recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to maintain their “ways.”

The ways of the Muscogee and Euchee people are carried on at the stomp grounds. These ways can be understood as the laws, customs, and traditions of the Muscogee and Euchee people, are highly complex, deeply embedded, and alive. Following the directions of their chiefs, carrying out ceremonial rules, honoring the spirit world, maintaining peace and order, caring for children while teaching them proper ways of behavior, and so on. These laws, customs, and traditions, structure Euchee society in Stories from the Euchee Reservation. These laws are challenged by many things – the history of conquest and colonization, generations of social and economic deprivation, and the temptations of contemporary society – yet they remain alive to this day.