Oklahoma American Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act of 1974 Struck Down [definition of “Indian” more restrictive than federal law]

Here are the materials in Fontenot v. Hunter (W.D. Okla.):

1 Complaint

33 Ps Motion for Summary Judgment

35 Oklahoma Motion for Summary Judgment

39 Ps Response

41 State Response

42 State Reply

43 Ps Reply

47 DCT Order

An excerpt:

Although the Court rejects Plaintiff’s challenges under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as those under the dormant Commerce Clause and the First Amendment, the Court finds for the foregoing reasons that Plaintiff has shown that Oklahoma’s American Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act of 1974, as amended, Okla. Stat. tit. 78, §§ 71-75, violates the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and is therefore unconstitutional, both facially and as applied to her.


New Scholarship on Standing Rock, Treaties, and the Supremacy Clause

Carla F. Fredericks & Jesse D. Heibel have posted “Standing Rock, the Sioux Treaties, and the Limits of the Supremacy Clause,” forthcoming in the University of Colorado Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

The controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) has put the peaceful plains of North Dakota in the national and international spotlight, drawing thousands of people to the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers outside of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation for prayer and peaceful protest in defense of the Sioux Tribes’ treaties, lands, cultural property, and waters. Spanning over 7 months, including the harsh North Dakota winter, the gathering was visited by indigenous leaders and communities from around the world and represents arguably the largest gathering of indigenous peoples in the United States in more than 100 years. 

At the center of the fight are the 1851 and 1868 Treaties entered into by the United States and the Great Sioux Nation. The pipeline route, which was chosen without input from the Tribes, runs directly through the heart of treaty lands secured to the Great Sioux Nation in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, lands to which the Sioux Tribes continue to have strong cultural, spiritual, and historical ties. Furthermore, the construction and operation of an oil pipeline directly upstream from their current reservations undoubtedly threatens the Tribes’ hunting and fishing rights expressly reserved in the 1868 Treaty and affirmed in numerous subsequent Acts of Congress, as well as their reserved water rights pursuant to the Winters Doctrine. 

But as the Tribe and their attorneys battled for injunctive relief in federal court, the Treaties were largely absent in the pleadings and court opinions. However, with the District Court’s ruling on June 14, 2017, it appears the Treaties now present the crux of the surviving argument, presenting problems for the Court in terms of both their applicability in the face of Congress’ plenary power over Indian tribes and diminished Trust responsibility as well as the appropriate remedy for the Tribes when and if these Treaty rights are violated. As such, the case provides an opportunity to analyze the truth and lies surrounding the Constitutional place of Indian Treaties in federal courts. 

Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution states “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Known as the “Supremacy Clause,” this consitutional provision has serious implications in federal Indian law. Of particular importance is whether treaties made with Indian tribes can be considered the “supreme Law of the Land”. The current litigaiton and historic indigenous uprising against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the route of which lies within recognized tribal treaty boundaries, provides a contemporary example of the limitations of Supremacy Clause. This article attempts to place the Standing Rock and other Sioux Tribes’ legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline against the history of Indian treaties and treaty rights for a contemporary examination of federal courts application of Indian treaty rights and the limits of the Supremacy Clause to ensure Indian treaties and treaty rights be respected as the “supreme law of the land.”

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.

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.

“Why Tribes Should Not Withdraw From Treaties”

From RezNet’s TriBaLOG:

Following is a statement from the office of Rodney M. Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe:

On December 19th, 2007 four individuals calling themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation held a press conference at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington DC where they announced a plan to withdraw from all Treaties signed by Indian Tribes with the United States.

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