Michigan Tribes Oppose Net Pen Aquaculture


Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Environmental, Michigan Indian, News, treaty rights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Unpublished Decision from Alaska Declining to Apply 2015 ICWA Guidelines Provision on Expert Witnesses


Even before the holding, the Court brushes aside some pretty disturbing facts, including:

OCS noted that Casey might be affiliated with the Asa’carsamiut Tribe and that the children were believed to be Indian children affiliated with the Tribe. . . . In September the Tribe attempted to intervene. Because the Tribe’s documents were ambiguous about Casey’s tribal membership and the Tribe did not respond to the trial court’s request for clarification, in November the trial court denied the intervention motion without prejudice. At about the same time the trial court granted OCS’s motion to remove the children from Kent’s home.

In August 2013 OCS petitioned to terminate Kent’s and Casey’s parental rights, stating that the children were “not believed to be Indian children” and setting out the grounds for termination.  In its order terminating Kent’s parental rights, the trial court first stated that it had made findings at various stages of the case that the children were not Indian children under ICWA, that no party had presented contrary information at trial or asked the court to reconsider its earlier rulings, and that the children were not Indian children under ICWA.

On the Expert Witness issue:

When determining whether a witness satisfies ICWA’s “qualified expert witness” requirement, we have considered the Bureau of Indian Affairs(BIA) Guidelines for State Courts; Indian Child Custody Proceedings (1979 BIA Guidelines). . . . In February 2015 — after the termination trial in this case but before the remand — the BIA adopted Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings (2015 BIA Guidelines) to “supersede and replace the guidelines published in 1979.” Less than a month later the BIA published proposed new ICWA regulations to “complement [the] recently published Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.” The proposed regulations have not yet been adopted.

OCS argues that “because the BIA is in the process of adopting ICWA regulations whose final content is unknown, it would be premature for this court to consider overturning Alaska law on ICWA experts before knowing what the BIA’s final word on qualified experts is.” We agree. Final regulations have not yet been adopted and we thus cannot determine whether they will include such a requirement in the future. We decline to overrule our longstanding precedent based on the possibility that BIA regulations will require a different result in the future.

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2016 NNALSA Writing Competition


to the

15th Annual

National Native American Law Students Association

Writing Competition


The NNALSA Writing Competition aims to recognize excellence in legal research/writing related to Indian law; encourage the development of writing skills among NNALSA members; and enhance substantive knowledge in Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law, and traditional forms of government.

Eligible Topics Include:

  • Federal Indian Law and Policy
  • Tribal Law and Policy
  • International Law and Policy Concerning Indigenous Peoples
  • Comparative Law (i.e. Inter-Tribal or Gov.-to-Gov. Studies)
  • Other Related Topics


  • First Prize: $1,000Publication in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, sponsored by Sonosky
  • Second Prize: $500, sponsored by Dentons
  • Third Prize: $250, sponsored by Akin Gump

Awardees will be recognized at the National NALSA annual meeting (part of the 41st Annual Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference on April 7–8, 2016).

Submit To: 2016NNALSAWritingCompetition@gmail.com.

  • Please remove identifying information such as name and school.
  • No need to supply any registration form or identification number.
  • All competitors must be current NNALSA members.
  • To become a member, visit www.nationalnalsa.org.

Deadline: 5:00 p.m. (EST), Monday, February 8, 2016.

For more information, visit goo.gl/RMvhuy or contact jmb2369@columbia.edu

Posted in Author: Sarah Donnelly, Education | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sault Tribe Opening for Assistant Prosecutor

Download announcement and details here.

Posted in Author: Sarah Donnelly, jobs | Tagged | Leave a comment

BIA Releases Scoping Report for Little River Band Casino

Download the report here.

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NILL Indian Law Bulletin (2/5/16)

The National Indian Law Library added new content to the Indian Law Bulletins on 2/05/16.

U.S. Courts of Appeals Bulletin
Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp. (Payday Loans – Debt Collection)

U.S. Federal Trial Courts Bulletin
Wright v. Langdeau (Intratribal Dispute, Exhaustion of Tribal Remedies)
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. United States (Environmental Law – Response and Cleanup; Liability)

State Courts Bulletin
In re Doe (Indian Child Welfare Act – Application of)
In re England, Minor (Indian Child Welfare Act – Best Interest of the Child)
Town of Verona v. Cuomo (Settlement Agreement – Casino Gambling)

News Bulletin
In the Land & Water section, we feature two articles relating to Klamath, Oregon, area water problems.

U.S. Regulatory Bulletin
We feature a notice of the Department of Interior regarding Indian entities recognized and eligible to receive services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

U.S. Legislation Bulletin
We added a new bill:
H.R.4456: RECLAIM Act of 2016 — To amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to provide funds to States and Indian tribes for the purpose of promoting economic revitalization, diversification, and development in economically distressed communities through the reclamation and restoration of land and water resources adversely affected by coal mining carried out before August 3, 1977, and for other purposes.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher | Tagged | Leave a comment

Yakama Nation Largely Prevails in CERCLA Suit with US

Here are the materials in Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. United States of America (D. Or.):

20 Yakama Motion for Summary J

21-1 Memorandum in Support

25 US Response

27 US Motion for Summary J

31 Yakama Reply

33 Magistrate Report

41 DCT Order

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Environmental, Research, treaty rights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Federal Court Quashes Subpoena on Tribal Sovereign Immunity Grounds

Here are the materials in Dillon v. BMO Harris Bank (N.D. Okla.):

3 Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians Motion to Quash

7 Response

9 Reply

15 DCT Order


Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, sovereign immunity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

FOIA Suit Against IHS Over Groundwater Contamination on Yakama Reservation

Download complaint and exhibits in the matter of Friends of Toppenish Creek v. IHS (W.D. Wash.) here.

Posted in Author: Sarah Donnelly, Environmental, Research | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

D.K. Sprague Retires after Twenty-Four Years as Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe

D.K. Sprague Retires after Twenty-Four Years as Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe  

Sprague Led Tribe from Pre-Recognition to Successful Modern Tribal Government 

(Bradley, Mich.) – Today, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) (Tribe) announced the retirement of David K. (D.K.) Sprague as chairman.  Sprague served as chairman since his initial election by the Bradley Settlement Elder’s Council in 1992.  He is distinguished as one the longest serving tribal chairman, in consecutive terms, throughout Indian Country in the Unites States.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve my community as chairman for the last twenty-four years,” said D.K. Sprague, former chairman.  “I thank my family and the Tribe for supporting me, and God for allowing me to serve at a time when our dreams came to reality.  I give recognition to our tribal leaders who came before me, as I merely finished what they started when the Bradley Indian Mission was established in the 1830s.”

The Tribe achieved federal re-acknowledgment in 1999 after many years of working through the federal acknowledgment process.  The Tribe’s goal of reaching self-sufficiency through its pursuit of economic development under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would take over a decade.  During the last twenty-four years the Tribe went from having nothing to becoming a modern tribal government that can now provide for the needs of its people.

“I am proud to have served the Tribe under the leadership of D.K. Sprague,” said Vice Chairman Ed Pigeon.  “I witnessed steady and consistent leadership in extremely difficult situations over a long period of time.  It was amazing to see him put to the test so many times, but never waver.  The Tribe is truly blessed that a person with such rare leadership qualities was in place at a time when it was most needed.”

Many friends, family and staff members have expressed their gratitude to the former chairman for his dedication to the needs of tribal government staff and the team members who work in the gaming enterprise.  He was always approachable and jovial with everyone around him.

“No one ever wanted this day to come,” said Leah Sprague-Fodor, Tribal Council member.  “However, asking him to continue serving would be selfish of us.  We know he served with everything he had for so many years.  He has earned his retirement and now he should enjoy golf, traveling, baseball games and spending time with his family and friends.”

Sprague grew up in the Bradley area where he remained most of his life.  He joined the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War.  He served in 14 natural disasters worldwide as a Red Cross volunteer, which included an extended time of service in Louisiana for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  He is a lifelong member of the Methodist Church at the Bradley Indian Mission.

In the next 90-120 days the Tribe will hold a special election to fill the seat on the Tribal Council vacated by Sprague’s retirement.  Afterwards, the Tribal Council will select the next chairman.  In the interim, Vice Chairman Ed Pigeon will serve as acting Chairman.

Timeline of Gun Lake Tribe events occurring under the leadership of D.K. Sprague

1992 Bradley Settlement Elder’s Council elects D.K. Sprague to serve as Chairman.
August 23, 1999 Federal re-acknowledgment by the United States as a sovereign tribal government.
August 2001 Tribe submits land-into-trust application to re-establish reservation lands for the purpose of economic development under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
January 30, 2009 Federal government takes land in trust for Tribe to construct Gun Lake Casino.
February 10, 2011 Gun Lake Casino opens.
May 14, 2014 Bradley Indian Mission Church building turns 100 years old, at that time the Mission is approx. 176 years old.
September 26, 2014 President Obama signs into law the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act.
October 2014 Approx. 300 acres of additional land placed into trust.
August 2015 Government Campus opens to tribal citizens and tribal government staff.  Becomes the “Capitol Building” of the Gun Lake Tribe.
January 29, 2016 D.K. Sprague retires as chairman.
Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Michigan Indian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment