Stanford Law Review Online Publishes “Indian Lives Matter — Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers”

Fletcher’s paper, “Indian Lives Matter — Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers,” is now available online (PDF).

Federal Court Dismisses Tort Action against Snoqualmie Casino

Here are the materials in Cadet v. Snoqualmie Casino (W.D. Wash.):

1-1 Complaint

9 Motion to Dismiss

11 Reply

12 Response

15 Order to Show Cause

16 Tribe Response

18 DCt Order

Tenth Circuit Briefs in Chegup v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation [banishment]

Here:

3-24-20 Appellants’ Opening Brief

5-22-20 Appellees’ Brief

6-5-20 Appellants’ Reply Brief

Lower court materials here.

Federal Court Dismisses Miss. Choctaw from FTCA Claim, Claim against US Proceeds

Here are the materials in Chipmon v. United States (S.D. Miss.):

42 MBCI Motion to Dismiss

43 Memo in Support

42-1 MBCI v Peebles Opinion

42-2 Sharp v MBCI Opinion

50 DCT Order

Prior post here.

Amusement of the Day (concl.): BIA Phoenix Area Enrollment Manual

And today we conclude with a few leftover illustrations (I particularly like the one that illustrates Indian lawyering). Hope you enjoyed the previous posts here and here.

Amusement of the Day (cont.) — 1977 BIA Phoenix Area Office Enrollment Manual Illustrations

Yesterday, we covered tribal constitutions. Today, the political and bureaucratic complexity of enrollment decisions in cartoon form (we will conclude tomorrow):

Amusement of the Day — 1977 BIA Phoenix Area Office Enrollment Manual Illustrations

Apparently, in 1977 or so, the Phoenix Area Office decided to write a lengthy manual for tribal governments, instructing them on how to make enrollment decisions that met tribal constitutional muster. Suffice it to say the text is TL:DR, but the illustrations are awesome — and by awesome, I mean crazy — and by crazy, I mean Indian country crazy.

Tomorrow, how tribal governments make membership decisions….

Fletcher on the Pandemic and Tribal Powers over Nonmembers

I posted a draft paper, “Indian Lives Matter: Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers,” on SSRN.

Here is the introduction to the paper:

America’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is a microcosm of how Americans see the nation. It is a story of rugged individualism versus community needs. Many Americans insist on freedom to do as they please, rigorously pushing back on government. But in an environment where small numbers of individuals can easily transmit a deadly infection to others, creating the exponential increase in infections, rugged individualism is a terrible threat. Pandemics, luckily for humans, do not seem to occur all that frequently, but when they do occur, they can dramatically alter human history.

Indian people know all too well the impact of pandemics on human populations, having barely survived smallpox outbreaks and other diseases transmitted during the generations of early contact between themselves and Europeans. Indian people also suffered disproportionately from the last pandemic to hit the United States about a century ago. Some things have changed for the better for Indian people, namely tribal self-governance, but many things are not much better, including the public health situation of many Indian people.

Modern tribal governments navigate a tricky legal and political environment. While tribal governments have power to govern their own citizens, nonmembers are everywhere in Indian country, and the courts are skeptical of tribal authority over nonmembers. For example, after the Navajo Nation announced a 57-hour curfew for the weekend of April 10-13, 2020 (Easter weekend for many), the sheriff’s offices of Cibola and McKinley counties sent letters to the tribe insisting that the tribe refrain from citing nonmembers during the curfew, further insisting that nonmembers are governed more “fully” by the Governor of the State of New Mexico. Further, the fact that it is the county sheriff’s offices – and not counsel for the nonmembers – sending the letters is a deeply consequential signal to the tribal government. Of course, allowing nonmembers freedom to flout the tribe’s curfew defeats the purpose of the curfew. During a pandemic, the limitations on powers of tribal government could lead to tragedy.

This short essay is designed to lay down the argument favoring tribal regulatory powers over nonmembers in Indian country during a pandemic. It should be an easy argument, but federal Indian law makes it more complicated than it should be.

Here are some of the primary source documents noted in the paper:

Cibola county letter

McKinley County Sheriff Letter

The_Sacramento_Bee_Mon__Oct_28__1918_

Continue reading

Federal Court Dismisses FTCA/Section 1983 Claim against Feds for Actions of Fort Peck Tribal Court

Here are the materials in Leachman v. United States (D. Mont.):

Sixth Circuit Briefs in Sovereign Lending Case Involving Chippewa Cree Tribe

Here are the briefs in Swiger v. Rosette:

Lower court materials in Swiger v. Rosette (E.D. Mich.):