Whether the Ninth Circuit’s mootness ruling warrants summary reversal where the panel clearly misapprehended governing law on mootness and on the authority of federal courts to order equitable relief affecting nonparties.
The swelling membership of the Tulalip Tribes, based near Everett, Washington, for example, is a point of pride for tribal member and state representative John McCoy, who believes improved health care and an above-average birth rate are at play.
“We’re living longer. Our babies are surviving birth,” says McCoy, adding that more jobs on reservations, led by tribal gaming, is another reason for the growth. “So we have our peoples coming back from other states. They’re coming home because there is an economy.”
At Tulalip, that adds up to a 22 percent growth rate over the past decade. Other tribes around the country have grown even faster.
And not so good:
At the other end of the spectrum are tribes whose enrollments are stagnating, including for example the Colville Confederated Tribes in northeast Washington.
Tribal councilmember Ricky Gabriel has proposed a referendum to relax the blood requirement in the tribal constitution so more children of mixed marriages can enroll.
“I’ve had a lot of very positive [reactions],” he says. “The elders are extremely happy about this. They’re pushing hard. They’re seeing their grandchildren not be able to be enrolled.”
Enrollment in the tribe currently requires a minimum of one-quarter Colville blood. But when you have intermarriage, that bloodline is diluted. It takes just a couple of generations of intermarriage to put the children at risk of being disqualified from membership.
Then the tribal population withers. The proposed referendum would change the rules to count any Indian blood toward the minimum.
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