Alex Skibine on the Tribal Right to Exclude Nonmembers

Alexander Tallchief Skibine has posted “The Tribal Right to Exclude Non-Tribal Members from Indian-Owned Lands,” forthcoming from the American Indian Law Review, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

In 1981, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Montana v. United States, severely restricting the ability of Indian Tribes to assume civil regulatory and adjudicatory jurisdiction over non-tribal members for activities taking place on non-Indian lands within Indian reservations. The Court in Montana stated that “it could readily agree” with the Court of Appeals’ holding that the tribe could regulate the conduct of non-member on tribal lands. Yet, twenty years later, the Court issued its opinion in Nevada v. Hicks holding that in certain circumstances, the jurisdiction of Indian tribes could also be limited even if the activities of the non-members took place on Indian-owned lands.

It has been almost twenty years since Hicks and because of the cryptic and fractured nature of that decision, the federal circuits are divided and still trying to figure out under what circumstances tribal civil jurisdiction over non-members should be restricted when these activities take place on Indian-owned lands.

In this Article, I argue that among all the possible interpretations of Hicks, the one adopted by the Ninth Circuit makes the most sense. Under that interpretation, the so-called Montana framework used to divest tribes of jurisdiction is not applicable to cases where a tribe has retained the right to exclude. I argue that Hicks can be reasonably conceptualized as endorsing the 9th Circuit methodology. However, I also argue that Hicks should have been decided as a state jurisdiction cases and not a tribal divestiture of inherent sovereignty case. Re-imagining Hicks as a state jurisdiction case would not have changed the outcome but would have avoided the last twenty years of confusion surrounding how Hicks should be interpreted.

Highly recommended!

Katherine Florey on Regulatory Sovereignty in the Pandemic

Katherine Florey has posted “Toward Tribal Regulatory Sovereignty in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” forthcoming in the Arizona Law Review. Here is the abstract:

The media has often highlighted the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken in many parts of Indian country – and that, to be sure, is part of the story. But there are other aspects of the picture as well. On the one hand, tribes have taken resourceful and creative measures to combat COVID-19. On the other, a troublesome doctrinal landscape has complicated their efforts to do so. The judicially crafted Montana framework severely restricts tribal civil regulatory power over nonmembers – a particular problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, when nonmembers have defied tribal curfews, camped in prohibited areas, and opened businesses on reservations despite closure orders. While Montana nominally contains a “health and welfare” exception allowing tribes to exercise power over nonmembers in emergencies, its contours are too ambiguous and fact-specific to allow tribes to act with the certainty and speed they require. The pandemic thus provides a vivid illustration of the way in which Montana hinders effective tribal governance. Further, the pandemic has occurred at a moment when the Court may be more receptive than it has been in the past to arguments favoring tribal sovereignty – and at a time when many of the concerns about tribal regulation that motivated the Court four decades ago in Montana seem increasingly distant both from current doctrine and contemporary tribal realities. As a result, it is time, at a minimum, for the Court to expand Montana’s “health and welfare” exception to resemble something closer to the powers states possess to safeguard public health.

Federal Magistrate Recommends in Favor of Tribal Jurisdiction over Utility Co-op

Here are the new materials in Big Horn County Elec. Coop. v. Big Man (D. Mont.):

99 Big Horn Response to Big Man MSJ

100 Big Man Response to Big Horn MSJ

102 Tribal Response to Big Horn MSJ

104 Big Horn Reply

105 Big Man Reply

106 Tribal Reply

129 Magistrate Report

Prior post with additional briefing here.

Stanford Law Review Online Publishes “Indian Lives Matter — Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers”

Fletcher’s paper, “Indian Lives Matter — Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers,” is now available online (PDF).

News Coverage of Efforts by Tribes to Self-Isolate in the Face of Pressure of Nonmembers to Enter Indian Lands

Al Jazeera: “As Native peoples self-isolate, outsiders are still demanding in

CBS: “Longstanding issues put Native American communities at high COVID-19 risk

Parker Pioneer: “A look at Montana v. U.S., the court case in CRIT’s ‘stay-at-home’ order“//”CRIT says Governor’s order doesn’t apply in Town of Parker, Tribal Council’s resolution does

Parker Live: “CRIT Attorney General hits back at Town of Parker over COVID-19 orders

ABC: “Isolated indigenous tribes risk extinction from coronavirus, experts say

More ammo for the paper on the pandemic and Montana 2….

Fletcher on the Pandemic and Tribal Powers over Nonmembers

I posted a draft paper, “Indian Lives Matter: Pandemics and Inherent Tribal Powers,” on SSRN.

Here is the introduction to the paper:

America’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is a microcosm of how Americans see the nation. It is a story of rugged individualism versus community needs. Many Americans insist on freedom to do as they please, rigorously pushing back on government. But in an environment where small numbers of individuals can easily transmit a deadly infection to others, creating the exponential increase in infections, rugged individualism is a terrible threat. Pandemics, luckily for humans, do not seem to occur all that frequently, but when they do occur, they can dramatically alter human history.

Indian people know all too well the impact of pandemics on human populations, having barely survived smallpox outbreaks and other diseases transmitted during the generations of early contact between themselves and Europeans. Indian people also suffered disproportionately from the last pandemic to hit the United States about a century ago. Some things have changed for the better for Indian people, namely tribal self-governance, but many things are not much better, including the public health situation of many Indian people.

Modern tribal governments navigate a tricky legal and political environment. While tribal governments have power to govern their own citizens, nonmembers are everywhere in Indian country, and the courts are skeptical of tribal authority over nonmembers. For example, after the Navajo Nation announced a 57-hour curfew for the weekend of April 10-13, 2020 (Easter weekend for many), the sheriff’s offices of Cibola and McKinley counties sent letters to the tribe insisting that the tribe refrain from citing nonmembers during the curfew, further insisting that nonmembers are governed more “fully” by the Governor of the State of New Mexico. Further, the fact that it is the county sheriff’s offices – and not counsel for the nonmembers – sending the letters is a deeply consequential signal to the tribal government. Of course, allowing nonmembers freedom to flout the tribe’s curfew defeats the purpose of the curfew. During a pandemic, the limitations on powers of tribal government could lead to tragedy.

This short essay is designed to lay down the argument favoring tribal regulatory powers over nonmembers in Indian country during a pandemic. It should be an easy argument, but federal Indian law makes it more complicated than it should be.

Here are some of the primary source documents noted in the paper:

Cibola county letter

McKinley County Sheriff Letter

The_Sacramento_Bee_Mon__Oct_28__1918_

Continue reading

FMC Corp. v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Cert Petition [Updated]

Here:

cert-petition.pdf

Questions presented:

1. Whether the Ninth Circuit correctly holds that tribal jurisdiction over nonmembers is established whenever a Montana exception is met, or whether, as the Seventh and Eighth Circuits have held, a court must also determine that the exercise of such jurisdiction stems from the tribe’s inherent authority to set conditions on entry, preserve tribal self-government, or control internal relations.

2. Whether the Ninth Circuit has construed the Montana exceptions to swallow the general rule that tribes lack jurisdiction over nonmembers.

Lower court materials here.

Update:

Brief in Opposition

Reply

Ninth Circuit Affirms Tribal Jurisdiction in FMC v. Shoshone-Bannock

Here is the opinion in FMC Corp. v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

Briefs here.

UPDATE:

En Banc Petition

Amicus Brief

CA9 Order Denying Petition

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Mitchell v. Tulalip; Teck Metals v. Colville; and King Mountain Tobacco

Here is the order list.

Mitchell materials here.

Teck Metals materials here.

King Mountain materials here.