NYTs: “U.S. to Investigate Discrimination Against Native Students on Montana Reservation”


We posted the Fort Peck Tribe’s 2017 Complaint here.

The news coverage and investigation that apparently spurred this action was posted here.

Fort Peck Tribe Files Education Discrimination Complaint against Wolf Point District Schools

Here is the complaint.

An excerpt:

The Wolf Point School District discriminates against Native students and deprives them of basic rights to which they are entitled in school. The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, whose reservation encompasses the Wolf Point school district, asks that the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education intervene. The unequal treatment of Native students is detrimental to their development and education and violates federal law.

White residents on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, which is majority-Native, control local politics, business, and schools. Gerrymandering and nepotism have perpetuated racial inequality created by federal policies, including preferential land grants for white homesteaders and compulsory boarding school programs for Native students. Schools on the Reservation bear the legacy of the Fort Peck Reservation Boarding School, which violently imposed Western culture, values, and education on Native families through the early 1900s.

Hostility towards Native students and culture persists. Native students in Wolf Point report the use of racial slurs and harmful stereotypes by white administrators, faculty, and staff. Native students are disproportionately disciplined and excluded from school, often without due process. At Wolf Point High School, non-white students, most of whom are Native, are more than twice as likely to receive in- and out-of-school suspensions than white students. These suspensions also violate federal and local standards for discipline. Native students are routinely denied academic and extracurricular opportunities available to white students. Students with academic and behavioral challenges, most of whom are Native, are warehoused in the Opportunity
Learning Center, which is understaffed and underfunded.

Court of Federal Claims Dismisses Pro Se Treaty Rights Claim

Here are the available materials in Walking Eagle v. United States (Fed. Cl.):

1 Complaint

14 DCT Order

The remaining pleadings are sealed.

An excerpt from the opinion:

Plaintiff, Clarence Walking Eagle, Jr., is a Sioux Native American in the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe and resides on Fort Peck in Brockton, Montana. Appearing pro se, he filed his complaint on August 8, 2016, seeking $10,000,000.00 in compensatory damages under various treaties and statutes due to, among other alleged wrongs, “being unlawfully alienated from the exclusive use and benefit of [his] trust land and exposed to foreign jurisdiction without consent for the benefit of non-Indian concerns for almost ninety-nine years.” Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 48. Plaintiff also seeks $10,000,000.00 in punitive damages and various forms of equitable relief, such as an order restraining state law enforcement agencies from exercising jurisdiction within the boundaries of Fort Peck.
On December 5, 2016, defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, arguing that plaintiff’s claims accrued outside this court’s six-year statute of limitations and that plaintiff is precluded from bringing these claims due to his participation in the Cobell class-action settlement, which is described in more detail below. See Cobell v. Salazar, No. 96-1285(TFH), 2011 WL 10676927 (D.D.C. July 27, 2011); Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss (“Def.’s Mot.”) Ex. 4 (copy of the Cobell settlement agreement). We agree and deem oral argument on this motion unnecessary. Because we find that plaintiff’s claims accrued outside of this court’s six-year statute of limitations and that, in any event, plaintiff is precluded from bringing these claims due to the Cobell settlement agreement, we grant defendant’s motion to dismiss.

Alaska SCT Vacates Restrictive Visitation Schedule Involving Fort Peck Father

Here is the opinion in Red Elk v. McBride.

An excerpt:

Two parents disputed the legal custody and visitation rights for their
daughter; the mother resides in Homer and the father resides on the Fort Peck Indian
Reservation in Montana. The superior court awarded sole legal custody to the mother
because it concluded that the parties could not communicate effectively to co-parent their
daughter. The court ordered unsupervised visitation between the father and the daughter
in Alaska, but prohibited visitation on the reservation until the daughter turned eight.  
Although the superior court did not abuse its discretion when it decided legal custody,
it failed to fully justify its decision when creating its restrictive visitation schedule and
allocating visitation expenses. Consequently we remand for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.

 The two Fort Peck Court of Appeals opinions referenced in the Alaska opinion are here and here.

Ninth Circuit Partially Reverses Conviction for Theft from Fort Peck Tribe

Here is the opinion in United States v. White Eagle.

The court’s summary:

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part a criminal judgment in a case arising out of the involvement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in a scheme to obtain money from a tribal credit program.

Reversing convictions on counts charging conspiracy to convert tribal credit program proceeds (18 U.S.C. § 371) and theft and conversion from an Indian Tribal Organization (18 U.S.C. §§ 1163, 2), the panel held that the government’s misapplication theory, predicated at best on an employer directive and a civil regulation, cannot support a conviction; and that the government’s embezzlement and conversion theories also fail because the defendant never controlled or had custody of the funds that she later borrowed.

Affirming a bribery conviction (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)), the panel held that a jury could easily infer a quid pro quo and had ample evidence to conclude that the defendant’s actions were “corrupt.”

Because the government did not show that the defendant violated a specific duty to report credit program fraud, the panel reversed her conviction of concealment of public corruption (18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(1)).

And the briefs:

White Eagle Opening Brief

US Answer Brief

White Eagle Reply Brief