Written Testimony from House Resources Hearing re: New Fee to Trust Guidance

From the House Resources Committee:

Witnesses:
Panel 1
The Honorable Carl Artman, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior, Washington, DC

Panel 2
The Honorable Lorraine White, Chief, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, Akwesasne, NY
The Honorable Vincent Armenta, Tribal Chairman, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Santa Ynez, CA
The Honorable Hazel Hindsley, Tribal Chairwoman, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, Webster, WI
Mr. Jeff Warnke, Director, Government and Public Relations, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Oakville, WA

Continue reading

House Resources Committee Hearing re: New Fee-to-Trust Guidance Announced

From Indianz:

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, February 27, to discuss the Bush administration’s new land-into-trust policy.

In January, assistant secretary Carl Artman issued guidelines that make it harder for tribes to take land into trust for off-reservation casinos. More scrutiny will be applied to gaming sites that are hundreds of miles away from existing reservations. [See Bryan Newland’s excellent commentary on these new rules here.]

Continue reading

NYTs Editorial on Off-Reservation Gaming

From the NYTs:

Good Decision on Tribal Casinos

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne made exactly the right call when he recently denied permission to 11 Indian tribes around the country to acquire more land in order to build casinos.

Continue reading

Department of Interior Changes Fee-to-Trust Process

Last week, the Department of Interior rejected fee-to-trust applications for eleven tribes . Matthew has linked to the rejection letters elsewhere on this site. In rejecting these applications, the DoI has changed the method by which it will review all fee-to-trust applications under 25 C.F.R. Part 151. On January 3rd, Assistant Secretary of Interior Carl Artman , issued a letter to the BIA’s Regional Directors that established that all future applications will be subjected to a “commutable distance” test. In other words, if a tribe seeks to have land placed into trust, even for non-gaming economic development purposes, it must be within a distance where tribal citizens on the existing reservation can reasonably commute to jobs at the site. This had previously not been the case.

Continue reading

Off-Reservation Gaming Letters

Indianz has links to the letters in which the Secretary of Interior rejected proposals to take land into trust for gaming purposes.

This is a significant development. Expect litigation, hopefully smart litigation.

Grand Traverse Band Trust Land Acquisition

From the Leelanau Enterprise (H/T Indianz):

132 acres ‘in trust’ for GTB

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has finally processed the paperwork required to place 14 parcels totaling 132 acres of land “in trust” for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Continue reading

Chief Justice Roberts & Federal Indian Law

Long before John G. Roberts, C.J. became life-tenured, he practiced. And he worked on at least three Indian law-related cases: Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie, Rice v. Cayetano, and (briefly) Roberts v. United States. Also, as part of President Reagan’s Office of Legal Counsel, he vetted several Acts of Congress related to Indian tribes.

Roberts won Venetie, representing the State of Alaska. He lost Rice, representing the State of Hawaii. And the Court denied his petition for cert on behalf of Hollis Roberts (no relation, one presumes) in Roberts v. U.S.

The now semi-notorious brief Roberts filed in Alaska v. Venetie is here: Venetie Petr Brief. It is notorious for the reversal of the “deadliest enemies” language in United States v. Kagama. The Kagama Court wrote that states and state citizens were the deadliest enemies of Indians and Indian tribes, but the Venetie brief (for no real good reason) altered the quote to mean that Indians and Indian tribes were the deadliest enemies of states and state citizens. Here’s my own paper on the archaic notion that states and tribes are “deadliest enemies.”

Hawaii’s brief in Rice v. Cayetano is here: Rice Resp Brief

Roberts’ cert petition in Roberts v. US is here: Roberts v. United States Cert Petn. This one is especially important since Roberts (and Roberts) brought a challenge to Section 465, the fee to trust statute. There is ongoing litigation involving Section 465 that may soon be appealed to the Supreme Court. To some extent, the legal challenge to Section 465 has morphed since the 1999 cert petition, but it is significant that Roberts, C.J. is aware of this kind of case.

Finally, we include the documents Roberts wrote as a member of the OLC. These came out during his Senate confirmation process.

Kickapoo OLC Memo

Reagan Indian Policy OLC Memo

Tribal Tax Status Act OLC Memo

Utah Paiute Act OLC Memo

Zuni OLC Memo

Shoalwater Bay OLC Memo

Las Vegas Paiute OLC Memo

I guess what these memos demonstrate is that young Roberts was a serious conservative and a funny guy (unless you were the subject of the humor).