Canadian Supreme Court Issues Decision in Tsilhqot’in First Nation Land Claim

Decision here

Held: The appeal should be allowed and a declaration of Aboriginal title over the area requested should be granted. A declaration that British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot’in Nation should also be granted.


In finding that Aboriginal title had been established in this case, the trial judge identified the correct legal test and applied it appropriately to the evidence. While the population was small, he found evidence that the parts of the land to which he found title were regularly used by the Tsilhqot’in, which supports the conclusion of sufficient occupation. The geographic proximity between sites for which evidence of recent occupation was tendered and those for which direct evidence of historic occupation existed also supports an inference of continuous occupation. And from the evidence that prior to the assertion of sovereignty the Tsilhqot’in repelled other people from their land and demanded permission from outsiders who wished to pass over it, he concluded that the Tsilhqot’in treated the land as exclusively theirs. The Province’s criticisms of the trial judge’s findings on the facts are primarily rooted in the erroneous thesis that only specific, intensively occupied areas can support Aboriginal title. Moreover, it was the trial judge’s task to sort out conflicting evidence and make findings of fact. The presence of conflicting evidence does not demonstrate palpable and overriding error. The Province has not established that the conclusions of the trial judge are unsupported by the evidence or otherwise in error. Nor has it established his conclusions were arbitrary or insufficiently precise. Absent demonstrated error, his findings should not be disturbed.

APTN story here.

CBC here.

Land Claim Filed in Minnesota Federal District Court

Complaint here.
Press Release here.

The lawsuit speaks of the Minnesota 1862 Sioux revolt where Congress later helped to regain lands for the Mdewakanton who saved settlers and did not participate in the revolt. A never repealed February 1863 Act instructed the Secretary of Interior to set aside about 12 square miles of reservation land for the loyal Mdewakanton’s “for ever.” Because of white-settler hostility, the loyal Mdewakanton were not able to settle on those lands. But, the United States, although it never had the legal authority to transfer title, did so and sold the land to subsequent possessors. Thus, all subsequent land owners never had clear title to those Indian lands.

Rep. Miller: Dems & Detroit Killed Sault Tribe and BMIC Bills

From the Port Huron Times Herald:

Your recent editorial about efforts to bring a casino to Port Huron shows the Times Herald is, at best, completely naive as to the politics behind this issue in Washington, D.C.

It is almost laughable that you are urging me to stand up to the bullying of my fellow Republicans to get this legislation passed. It is true some Republican members of Congress are opposed to any gaming expansion; however, as you may be aware, the Democrats control both the U.S. House and the Senate, every committee chairmanship and what legislation is heard in committee and on the floor.


Our bills were scheduled to be approved by the Natural Resources Committee. We were certain we had the necessary votes for passage, which is why it appears that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada called Speaker Nancy Pelosi and asked her to pull the bill. We are aware that Las Vegas Casino interests and other tribes that fear competition were heavily lobbying against our bills, as were Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his mother Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, members of Congress representing Detroit.

MSU American Indian Law & Lit Speaker Profile: Kirsten Matoy Carlson

In the coming weeks, we will be profiling the work of the speakers scheduled to present at the 4th Annual Indigenous Law Conference, “American Indian Law and Literature.”

The first profiled speaker, Kirsten Matoy Carlson, will be presenting a paper called, “Unresolved Disputes:Narratives in the Transformation and Processing of Persistent Claims.”

Kirsten’s abstract (from SSRN):

In 1980, the Supreme Court decided the largest land claim ever lodged against the United States government in favor of the Lakota people. The decision should have ended Lakota claims to the Black Hills, but it did not. This law review article seeks to understand why these claims persist despite their formal adjudication. It brings two traditions of legal scholarship together for the first time by considering the role of narrative in the sociolegal processes of dispute creation and re-creation. It argues that grievances persist through narratives, which facilitate the naming, blaming, and claiming stages of dispute creation. These narratives present a separate historical and legal perspective, and argue for the righting of historical injustices. As these narratives are repeated, the dispute is created and re-created intergenerationally, often evolving along the way. The article concludes that these narratives, which diverge from traditional legal narratives about the claims, explain the persistence of the unresolved dispute.