Alright, let’s try this.
In category 1, Indian nations, we’ll divide the bracket up into two, so you’ll be voting in four contests here. Four more later in the day. Let’s say you have until midnight eastern to vote.
#1 Alaska Native tribes
My overall number one seed, what with Congress repealing the Alaska exceptions from VAWA, Interior adopting a fee to trust rule, a big voting rights win, an important victory for tribal court jurisdiction, and another win on tribal governance matters. And perhaps the biggest is the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in Alaska v. Jewell, the subsistence hunting case. Alaska has Judge Voluck, too. The Alaska Supreme Court has been making things harder on the ICWA front however, here, here, and here, though perhaps the DOJ’s intervention in one case will make a difference, and the government’s effort to set the Alaska AG right is encouraging.
# 16 Buena Vista Rancheria
# 8 Omaha Tribe
The Omaha Tribe won a huge victory in the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed Judge Richard “Hercules” Kopf’s decision rejecting Nebraska’s effort to have the tribe’s reservation declared disestablished.
# 9 Kialegee Tribal Town
# 4 Cayuga Indian Nation
Cayuga won a big sovereign immunity decision in the Second Circuit, another beneficiary of the Bay Mills win in the Supreme Court. It wasn’t all pretty though, as tribal leadership disputes spill out in federal and state forums.
# 13 Big Lagoon Rancheria
One of the few tribes to make the list by not really winning anything in 2014; in fact, losing a biggie in the Ninth Circuit. But the court granted en banc review, and oral argument looked pretty good for tribal interests. We’ll see.
# 5 Resource tribes
Well, Interior announced that resource extraction royalties they collected reached over $1 Billion in a single year for the first time. But fracking is bad for the environment, the MHA Nation is overrun with corruption and human trafficking, and oil prices are down 33 percent. Hope they’re saving their money. Oh wait, they’re not. I guess this one is really about the MHA Nation, so let’s make that change now.
The real # 5, MHA Nation
# 12 Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Perhaps the most immediate beneficiary of the Bay Mills win in the Supreme Court, which persuaded the State of Michigan to seek another route to fighting Sault Tribe’s Lansing casino proposal. But not before Sault Tribe proposed two huge off-reservation casinos. Oh yeah, they won a $74 million contract case, too. Pretty good year. Ok, that persuades me, Sault Tribe’s seeding just jumped from 12 to 2 and knocks down BMIC, who actually won a SCT case this year.
The real # 12, Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
They earned a huge cert denial in their long-running fight with the Village of Hobart. And they filed an important amicus brief in the Stockbridge-Munsee cert petition.
The district court issued a long opinion in favor of the Village of Hobart. The briefs are available at the NARF Supreme Court Project site.