Here are the materials in Dossett v. Ho-Chunk Inc. (D. Or.):
Here is the link to this article, “The Ute Paradox.”
A few excerpts:
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Less than a century ago, the Southern Utes were barely hanging on, squeezed onto an unremarkable sliver of reservation land, a new and foreign way of life thrust upon them. Even as late as the 1950s, many had no running water or noticeable income. But today, as the bidding at the Superdome showed, the once-impoverished tribe is a financial powerhouse. With tribal businesses in 14 states, ranging from Gulf crude to upscale San Diego real estate, the 1,400 or so tribal members are, collectively, worth billions.
They didn’t strike it rich on casino gambling. Instead, the Southern Utes built their empire slowly, over decades, primarily by taking control of the vast coalbed methane and natural gas deposits that lie under their land. They’ve achieved cultural, environmental and economic self-determination through energy self-determination — a feat rarely accomplished, whether by Indians or non-Indians.
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From this nerve center, the tribe’s energy arm has reached into at least eight other states. The real estate arm owns or invests in developments and buildings in Denver and its suburbs, the San Diego suburb of Oceanside, as well as Kansas City, Houston and Albuquerque. The tribe’s GF Private Equity portfolio — for which the tribe is reportedly seeking a buyer, so that it can concentrate more on oil and gas — includes biotech ventures and defense contractors. Closer to home, the tribe is developing Three Springs, a “new urban” community between the reservation boundary and Durango. To help launch it, the tribe donated land for a new Durango hospital, to serve as an anchor for as many as 2,200 new residential units. The tribe’s net worth now stands at somewhere between $3.5 billion and $14 billion.
The tribe also has its own environmental standards, which are as strong as or stronger than state or federal regulations, and it is on the brink of getting federal approval for its sovereign air quality code. The first of its kind in the U.S., the code will empower the Southern Utes to tighten air-quality standards and administer permits under the federal Clean Air Act. The tribe has put parts of the reservation off-limits to all drilling, and it’s partnered with Solix Biofuels to create an algae-to-biofuel facility on the reservation. It took control of the tribal medical clinic in order to improve care, built a state-of-the-art recreation center, and has a groundbreaking Ute language program in its school. The Southern Ute Community Action Program runs alcohol and substance abuse treatment centers, a senior center, and job-training programs. Every member has the option of accepting a full college scholarship from the tribe. And the Southern Utes continue to follow older traditions such as the Bear and Sun Dances, which draw huge crowds each summer.
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Matthew Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law Center at Michigan State University, says the tribal companies remain unique: Their money goes through the government, while a private corporation’s goes to profit-hungry stockholders. “The perception I’m trying to avoid is that the tribes are any old private enterprise and for-profit machine,” says Fletcher. The Southern Ute financial empire is not a corporation; it’s a government.