Who Won Indian Law and Policy 2014? First Round Bracket — 5 of 8

In case you weren’t around yesterday, we’ve been playing a little game based on a game Grantland has been playing for a few years — Who Won 2014? Yesterday’s four posts (here, here, here, and here) ask you to vote in the first two categories, Indian nations and Doctrines, Laws, and Issues. Today, we move on to the next two categories.

Category 3 — People and Parties

#1 Hon. Diane Humetewa

The first American Indian woman to serve as a federal judge. ‘Nuff said.


# 16 Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee

The beneficiary of a Ninth Circuit NAGPRA decision dismissing a brought by disgruntled academics against the University of California.

# 8 Bill Wood

Bill’s a good friend with a great sense of humor, so he might be amused. But who else’s first law review article got quoted by the Supreme Court this year?


# 9 Dollar General Corp.

Yes, the people fighting the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. They lost over a downright angry dissent in the Fifth Circuit, but hired Tom Goldstein of  SCOTUSBlog fame and have attracted the Supreme Court’s attention with a CVSG. Now their next hurdle is the OSG. Ah the privilege of opposing tribal interests. Think the tribe would have had the same luck?

# 4 Sarah Deer

Prof. Deer won a coveted MacArthur Foundation Genius grant. If you want to see the lengths people will go to to win one of these (fictionalized), check out Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche, New York.

Plus she co-wrote one of the most interesting, compelling, and provocative law review articles of recent times, “Protecting Native Mothers and Their Children: A Feminist Lawyering Approach.” I bet it made ever second year law student articles editor that saw it in the slush pile squirm and quickly turn to another article on Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria. Kudos and much appreciation.


# 13 Neal Katyal

Ah, people could be ranked higher, but it’s a competitive game. Prof. Katyal was the victorious orator in the Bay Mills case, and may make another splash with a cert petition he filed for the Seminole Tribe. We’ll know Friday.

# 5 Hon. Kevin Washburn

Ok, let’s see how many feds I can make uncomfortable. How can the Assistant Secretary be seeded so low? It’s like Navajo — there’s an enormous amount of volume, but there’s a lot of bad with the good. This “person and party”, more so than any of the others on this list, is the job more than the person. But this is a great guy, famously self-effacing, humorous (it helps to steal Sam Deloria’s jokes once in a while), kind, generous with his time (UCLA, MSU, Colorado, Fed Bar, Harvard), and individually personable.

But he’s the assistant secretary and a fair percentage of the people reading this blog envision him as sporting devil horns like Tim Curry in Legend.


# 12 Hon. Eric Holder

Fed v. Fed. Another person enveloped by the position. Announced the new ICWA initiative. But also resigned (pending the Senate’s confirmation of his successor).

His agency, the Department of Justice, had an interesting year, opining about marijuana in Indian country, for example.

Attorney General Holder Announces ICWA Initiative

From the text of his speech:

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is launching a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.  Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and their tribal communities.  We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law.  And we will join with those departments, and with tribes and Indian child-welfare organizations across the country, to explore training for state judges and agencies; to promote tribes’ authority to make placement decisions affecting tribal children; to gather information about where the Indian Child Welfare Act is being systematically violated; and to take appropriate, targeted action to ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures. Ultimately, these children – and all those of future generations -represent the single greatest promise of our partnership, because they will reap the benefits of our ongoing work for change.  In the last six years, we have worked together in a shared effort to end misunderstanding and mistreatment, and to bring about a triumph of vision over the status quo; of ingenuity over incapacity; and of progress over stagnation.  We have laid an enduring foundation as we strive to empower vulnerable individuals, and give them the tools they need not to leave their communities, but to bolster them; not to abandon their ways of life, but to strengthen them.

Of course, there are many more challenges still before us.  And we’ve seen all too clearly that the barriers erected over centuries of discrimination will not be surmounted overnight.  But we face a brighter future today because we have placed our faith not in conflict or division, but in cooperation and respect; in the understanding that, though we live in different cultures, with different traditions, we share the same values.  We believe that sovereign nations have the right to protect their citizens from harm, and that no perpetrator of domestic violence should be granted immunity because of the color of his skin.

We understand that promises of autonomy have meaning, and should not be overturned through the changing desires of different federal Administrations.  And we recognize that any child in Indian Country – in Oklahoma, or Montana, or New Mexico – is not fundamentally different from an African-American kid growing up in New York City.  And neither child should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.

Federal Government Trust Management Settlement with 41 Tribes Announced



WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the settlement of lawsuits filed by 41 federally-recognized tribes against the United States, in which the tribes alleged that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury had mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the tribes.  The announcement followed a 22-month-long negotiation between the tribes and the United States that has culminated in settlements between the government and tribes totaling more than $1 billion.

These settlements resolve claims dating back more than 100 years and will bring to an end protracted litigation that has burdened both the plaintiffs and the United States.  Ending these long-running disputes about the United States’ management of trust funds and non-monetary trust resources will allow the United States and the tribes to move beyond the distrust exacerbated by years of litigation.  These settlement agreements represent a significant milestone in the improvement of the United States’ relationship with Indian tribes.

“These settlements fairly and honorably resolve historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Our commitment to tribes is the cornerstone of the Department of Justice’s policies and initiatives in Indian Country, and these settlements will enable the tribal community to pursue the goals and objectives they deem to be appropriate while marking another step in our shared future built upon mutual respect and strong bonds of trust between tribal governments and the United States.”

“These important settlements reflect President Obama’s continuing commitment to ensuring empowerment and reconciliation for American Indians,” said Secretary Salazar.  “It strengthens the government-to-government relationship with Tribal nations, helps restore a positive working relationship with Indian Country leaders and empowers American Indian communities.  I want to commend Attorney General Holder, our Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins and other key officials who were involved in the long negotiations leading to these historic agreements.  I look forward to working with Tribal leaders to further strengthen our government-to-government relationship based on mutual respect and a shared concern for the proper management of tribal trust assets and funds.”

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