Wisconsin Federal Court Holds Tax Immunities Do Not Apply to Reacquired Reservation Land

Here are the relevant materials in Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Evers (W.D. Wis.):

153 State Motion for Summary J

171 Towns and Assessors Motion for Summary J

172 Tribe Motion for Summary J

213 Tribe Response to 171

215 Tribe Response to 153

223 State Reply in Support of 153

228 Towns and Assessors Reply in Support of 171

232 Tribe Reply in Support of 172

245 DCT Order

Prior post here.

Cert Petition in Seneca Nation Citizen’s Treaty-Based Tax Immunity Claim

Here is the petition in Perkins v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue:

Perkins v. Commissioner Cert Petition

Question presented:

This Court is presented with a question of first impression, as to the taxability of income derived from the sale of sand and gravel, mined from treatyprotected land by an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians (“Seneca Nation”). Upon the granting of certiorari, the Court will examine the language in two federal treaties, promising not to disturb the “free use and enjoyment” of lands by the Seneca Nation and “their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them,” and protecting these lands “from all taxes” for any purpose. Treaty with the Six Nations (“Canandaigua Treaty”), art. III, Nov. 11, 1794, 7 Stat. 45; Treaty with the Senecas (“1842 Treaty”), art. 9th, May 20, 1842, 7 Stat. 590. Congress has explicitly stated the Internal Revenue Code “shall be applied to any taxpayer with due regard to any treaty obligation of the United States which applies to such taxpayer.” 26 U.S.C.A. § 894 (a)(1)(West).

The question presented is whether the United States Court of Appeals and the United States Tax Court have given “due regards” to the treaty obligations of the United States by finding these treaties had no textual support for an exemption from federal income tax applicable to an enrolled Seneca member whose income is derived from the
lands of the Seneca Nation. Perkins v. Comm’r, 970 F.3d 148, 162-67 (2d. Cir. 2020).

Lower court materials here.

Federal Court Dismisses Sault Tribe Member’s Claim to Tax Immunities

Here are the materials in Hall v. Whitmer (E.D. Mich.):

1 Pro Se Complaint

13 Tribe Motion to Dismiss

15 Response

19 Reply

20 State Motion for Summary Judgment

23 Response

24 Reply

27 Magistrate Report re 13

28 Magistrate Report re 20

28 Magistrate Report

32 DCT Order

33 Amended DCT Order

Interesting New Scholarship on Cultural Linguistics and Treaty Language

Sammy Matsaw, Dylan Nicely-Hedden, and Barbara A. Cosens have posted “Cultural Linguistics and Treaty Language: A Modernized Approach to Interpreting Treaty Language to Capture the Tribe’s Understanding“, forthcoming in Environmental Law, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Language is a reflection of a thought world. A worldview that has been shaped by place to describe one’s identity in space and time does not equate to species relatedness as a default to know one another. In the legal system of the United States, there is acknowledgement of treaties in colonized lands that there are rights granted from the tribes and not to them, and those rights are landbased. Yet, the Indigenous voice is dead before arrival, before it enters the room of science, justice, academe, or otherwise. The exclusion of Indigenous peoples at the table of knowledge and from the power to make decisions within their homelands has proven a detriment to the land, waterways, flora and fauna, and human beings. Nowhere would tribal peoples have agreed to our own destruction, it is and has been a forced hand. This Article explores the changing interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court canon to construe treaties with Native American tribes as the tribe would have understood them, and why mere translation of Native language to English fails to capture a Native understanding. Through the juxtaposition of western legal analysis and the powerful voice of a Native scientist, this Article illustrates how difficult and yet how necessary it will be to bridge that divide if this powerful western nation is to fulfill its sacred promises to Native people. As a contribution to the Issue on the fiftieth anniversary of United States v. Oregon, this Article looks to the future of federal jurisprudence on the interpretation of treaties with American Indians and envisions one in which reconciliation through an understanding of different worldviews is possible.

NYTs: “Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days”

Here.

A shocking excerpt:

The state had set a quota of 200 wolves, with 119 for hunters who applied for permits with the department and 81 set aside to the Ojibwe Tribes under their treaty rights.

“The notion that there was this wide divergence between the outcome of the hunt and the number of the wolves that could be hunted simply doesn’t bear up to analysis,” Mr. Esenberg said.

But the tribes consider wolves to be sacred and made a deliberate decision not to hunt them, said Dylan Jennings, a spokesman for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents the tribes.

Montana Federal District Court Holds Crow Tribe Has Jurisdiction Over Electric Co-op

Previous post on this litigation here.

Oregon Court Affirms Klamath Tribes’ Water Rights

On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, in an order from Klamath County Circuit Court Judge Cameron F. Wogan, the Oregon court again affirmed the Klamath Tribes’ water and treaty rights. Wednesday’s order rejected attacks on the Tribes’ water rights determined by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) during the administrative phase of the Klamath Basin Adjudication (KBA), affirmed the senior priority date of the Klamath Tribes’ water rights in the Klamath Basin, and upheld the need to maintain a healthy and productive habitat to meet the Tribes’ treaty right to fish, hunt, trap, and gather.

Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry responded to the order, “We are pleased that Judge Wogan upheld the rulings from the administrative phase of the KBA. He reaffirmed that the 1864 treaty entered into between the Klamath Tribes and the United States reserved to the Tribes sufficient water to keep our fisheries and other aquatic resources healthy so that we can protect our natural resources and cultural traditions.”

NARF Staff Attorney Sue Noe explained, “Judge Wogan correctly affirmed quantification of the Tribal water rights based on the habitat needs of the fish, wildlife, and plants. Although he ruled that opponents of the Tribal rights will have another chance to try to reduce the amounts by showing the Tribes don’t need all the water awarded by OWRD to meet their livelihood needs, Judge Wogan made clear in no uncertain terms that the amounts cannot be below what is necessary to provide healthy and productive habitat.”

Importantly, like all other courts that have considered the issue, Judge Wogan ruled that the Klamath Tribes’ water rights extend to Upper Klamath Lake. Upper Klamath Lake forms part of the border of the former Reservation and provides critical habitat for the endangered c’waam and koptu (Lost River and shortnose sucker fish), which are sacred fish species traditionally harvested by the Tribes.

Represented by NARF, the Klamath Tribes successfully achieved recognition of their treaty-reserved water rights in federal court litigation in the 1970s and 1980s in United States v. Adair, but the federal courts left quantification of the water rights to the state adjudication in the KBA. After the successful conclusion of the KBA’s 38-year administrative phase, the Tribes were able to begin enforcing their water rights for the first time in 2013. The administrative determinations are presently on review in the Klamath County Circuit Court and Judge Wogan’s ruling is the latest to come out of that process.

Michigan COA Holds Mackinac Tribe Member May Have Treaty Rights

Here is the opinion in People v. Caswell:

Opinion

An excerpt:

Defendant, Walter Joseph Caswell, is a member of the Mackinac Tribe of Odawa and Ojibwa Indians (the “Mackinac Tribe”). In October 2018, a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer cited defendant for spear fishing in a closed stream in violation of MCL 324.48715 and MCL 324.48711.1 Defendant moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that he was a member of an Indian tribe or band granted hunting and fishing rights by 1836 and 1855 treaties with the United States federal government. The Mackinac County district court granted defendant’s motion upon concluding that the Mackinac Tribe was entitled to rights under the relevant treaties. On appeal from the prosecutor, the Mackinac County circuit court reversed on the ground that the Mackinac Tribe was not federally recognized and that federal tribal recognition is a matter for initial determination by the United States Department of the Interior. We granted defendant’s delayed application for leave to appeal. For the reasons explained below, we vacate the circuit court’s order and remand the case to the district court for an evidentiary hearing consistent with this opinion.

Briefs:

353537_13_01.pdf-AT Brf

353537_16_01.pdf-AE Brf

353537_19_01.pdf-Reply

353537_29_01.pdf–Amicus 1

353537_32_01.pdf-Amicus 2