New York Federal Court Rules in Favor of Mohawk Land Claims

Here are the materials in Canadian St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. State of New York (N.D. N.Y.):

Elizabeth Hoover

Shinnecock Indian Nation v. New York Cert Petition


Shinnecock Cert Petition

Questions presented:

Petitioner’s case is the last in a long line of Indian land claim cases arising in the State of New York in which Indian tribes have been denied access to the courts by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Cayuga Indian Nation v. Pataki,413 F.3d 266 (2d Cir. 2005); see also, Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, 617 F.3d 114 (2d Cir. 2010); Onondaga Nation v. New York, 500 F. App’x 87 (2d Cir. 2012); Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. New York, 756 F.3d 163 (2d Cir. 2014). Based on its Cayuga “laches” defense, the court of appeals summarily dismissed all claims of Petitioner for legal and equitable relief for the loss of their lands in violation of the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790, also known as the Indian Non-Intercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. § 177. Recently, however, this Court affirmed the general rule in equity that courts may not override Congress’ judgment and apply laches to summarily dispose of all claims filed within a statute of limitations established by Congress, thereby foreclosing the possibility of any form of relief. Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1962, 1975 (2014). In Petrella, this Court recognized that only equitable remedies may be foreclosed at the outset of litigation due to delay in commencing suit in “extraordinary circumstances.” Id. at 1977. The questions presented are:
1. Whether at the outset of litigation a court may apply “laches” to foreclose an Indian tribe from bringing its federal statutory and common-law claims, *ii including one for money damages, if brought within the statute of limitations established by Congress.
2. Whether a court violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process and Takings Clauses when it retroactively applies a new, judicially-formulated rule to dismiss an Indian tribe’s viable claims ab initio, thereby extinguishing established property rights.
Lower court materials here.


Federal Circuit Rejects Shinnecock Nation’s Judicial Takings Claims re: Dismissal of Land Claims under Sherrill

Here is the opinion in Shinnecock Indian Nation v. United States.

An excerpt:

Accordingly, we affirm the United States Court of Federal Claims’ determination that the Nation’s breach of trust claims are not yet ripe for review, vacate its ruling that it lacked jurisdiction over those claims, and remand the case with instructions to dismiss the breach of trust claims without prejudice.


A similar analysis applies here. The Nation alleges that in applying the doctrine of laches to bar its land claim, the district court improperly “took away the Nation’s legal right to sue for compensation for its stolen land.” The Court of Federal Claims, however, is without authority to adjudicate the Nation’s claim that it suffered a compensable taking at the hands of the district court. See Allustiarte, 256 F.3d at 1352; Joshua, 17 F.3d at 380. The court has no jurisdiction to review the decisions “of district courts and cannot entertain a taking[s] claim that requires the court to scrutinize the actions of another tribunal.” Innovair, 632 F.3d at 1344 (alteration in original) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). As the government correctly notes, “[d]eciding whether the district court’s judgment resulted in an unconstitutional taking of the Nation’s property would require the Court of Federal Claims to review the judgment and pass on its correctness.” Just as the plaintiffs’ takings claim in Allustiarte was an improper collateral attack on the judgment of the bankruptcy courts, the Nation’s proposed judicial takings claim is an attempt to mount an improper collateral attack on the judgment of the district court.

Briefs here. Lower court materials here.

Fifth Circuit Briefs in Alabama-Coushatta Tribe v. United States — Land Claims Judgment Suit


Alabama-Coushatta Opening Brief

US Appellee Brief

Alabama-Coushatta Reply Brief

Lower court materials here.

Federal Court Dismisses Billion Dollar Shinnecock Land Claims Suit

Here are the materials in Shinnecock Indian Nation v. United States (Fed. Cl.):

7 US Motion to Dismiss

10 Shinnecock Response

13 US Reply

Shinnecock Indian Nation v. United States, No. 12-836, Slip Op. (Fed. Cl. Aug. 29, 2013)

Complaint here.

Federal Court Rejects Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s Effort to Force US to Pay Land Claims Judgment

Here are the materials in Alabama-Coushatta Tribe v. United States (E.D. Tex.):

US Motion to Dismiss

Alabama-Coushatta Opposition

US Reply

MJ R&R Recommending Dismissal

DCT Order Adopting MJ R&R

We posted the complaint here.