Outstanding New Paper on Federal Trust Land Acquisitions by Frank Pommersheim

Frank Pommersheim has published an important new paper titled “Land Into Trust: An Inquiry into Law, Policy, and History” in the Idaho Law Review. A PDF is here:

49 Idaho Law Review 519

Here is the introduction:

The land-into-trust policy of the Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”) is an express legislative attempt to undo, or at least ameliorate, the massive loss of Indian land that resulted from the federal government’s allotment policy of the late nineteenth *520 and early twentieth centuries. The allotment policy occasioned a severe reduction in the national Indian land estate without any benefit to the affected Indians and tribes including the vaunted goals of assimilation and the reduction of poverty in Indian country. The extensive loss of land produced much economic hardship, cultural strain, and erosion of tribal governing authority.

The subsequent attempt of IRA law and policy to reverse this process of severe land loss raises significant questions about the ability of law, and Indian policy in particular, to repair history without creating new conflict that reprises, even deepens, old animosities. This article will survey and analyze this process from both a policy and empirical point of view. In addition, this piece will review the nitty-gritty administrative procedures for putting land into trust, the various procedural challenges to this process, as well as substantive legal challenges to the validity of the land-into-trust portions of the IRA, especially in the state of South Dakota. Finally, the article will tally the empirical results to date, and conclude by examining non-litigation strategies and solutions with an eye on their ability to meet the needs of all concerned.

HIGHLY recommended.

Eighth Circuit Rejects South Dakota’s Challenge to Sisseton Trust Acquisition on Standing Grounds

From the CA8 website:

111745P.pdf 01/11/2012 State of South Dakota v. U.S. Department of Interior U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 11-1745 U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota – Pierre [PUBLISHED] [Riley, Author, with Wollman and Beam, Circuit Judges]
Civil case – Indian law. In an action by the State of South Dakota seeking to prevent the Secretary of the Interior from completing land-into- trust acquisitions, the State lacked standing to bring a constitutional due process claim, and the appeal is dismissed.

Here are the briefs.

Eighth Circuit Briefing in South Dakota v. DOI — Sisseton Trust Acquisition Challenge

Here are the briefs:

South Dakota Appellant Brief

Federal Govt Brief

Federal Govt Brief Addendum

Sisseton Amicus

South Dakota Reply

The lower court materials are here.