How “Yooper” made it into Merriam Webster

Okay, so this story has a legal angle but not an Indian law angle (that I know of), but I couldn’t resist posting it anyway. As I found out from reading the Merriam Webster blog (here), the word “Yooper” was added to the dictionary after a lengthy campaign by a prosecuting attorney in Delta County, Michigan. Personally, I have yet to make it to the U.P., but it’s on my list.

Posted in Author: Ann Tweedy, Language, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pascua Yaqui Tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under VAWA

News coverage includes an overview of the challenges Tribes have faced when non-Indian men batter Indian women on the reservation, a little about the battle to get the VAWA provisions passed, and information about the prosecutor, judge, and public defender who will be involved with this first case. Full article here.

Press Release from Pascua Yaqui regarding the VAWA pilot program here.

From the article:

Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

“We would literally drive them to the end of the reservation and tell them to beat it,” Valenzuela said. “And hope they didn’t come back that night. They almost always did.”

About three weeks ago, at 2:45 a.m., the tribal police were called to the reservation home of an Indian woman who was allegedly being assaulted in front of her two children. They said her 36-year-old non-
Indian husband, Eloy Figueroa Lopez, had pushed her down on the couch and was violently choking her with both hands.

This time, the Yaqui police were armed with a new law that allows Indian tribes, which have their own justice system, to prosecute non-Indians. Instead of driving Lopez to the Circle K and telling him to leave the reservation, they arrested him.

Inside a sand-colored tribal courthouse set here amid the saguaro-dotted land of the Pascua Yaqui people, the law backed by the Obama administration and passed by Congress last year is facing its first critical test. . . .

Some members of Congress had fought hard to derail the legislation, arguing that non-Indian men would be unfairly convicted without due process by sovereign nations whose unsophisticated tribal courts were not equal to the American criminal justice system.

“They thought that tribal courts wouldn’t give the non-Indians a fair shake,” said Pascua Yaqui Attorney General Amanda Lomayesva. “Congressmen all were asking, how are non-Indians going to be tried by a group of Indian jurors?”

Against that opposition last year, the Obama administration was able to push through only the narrowest version of a law to prosecute non-Indians. While it covers domestic and dating-violence cases involving Native Americans on the reservation, the law does not give tribes jurisdiction to prosecute child abuse or crimes, including sexual assault, that are committed by non-Indians who are “strangers” to their victims. In addition, the law does not extend to Native American women in Alaska.

“It was a compromise the tribes had to make,” Lomayesva said. “It only partially fixes the problem.”

Still, what will play out over the next months on the Pascua Yaqui reservation is being watched closely by the Justice Department and by all of Indian country. The tribe’s officials are facing intense scrutiny and thorny legal challenges as they prepare for their first prosecution of a non-Indian man.

“Everyone’s feeling pressure about these cases,” said Pascua Yaqui Chief Prosecutor Alfred Urbina. “They’re the first cases. No one wants to screw anything up.”

Posted in Author: Victoria Sweet, Criminal, Legislation, News, tribal courts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

IREHR on Bundy Ranch’s Longterm Potential Impact on Indian Treaty Rights


An excerpt:

A second lesson from the conflict is the double standard employed by the federal government in enforcing its grazing laws. The treatment of Bundy stands in stark contrast to the human rights violations committed against Carrie and Mary Dann (Mary Dann passed in 2005) by the U.S. government. The Dann sisters, members of the Western Shoshone tribe, grazed cattle on their ancestral lands in what is now central Nevada. In contrast to the Bundy incident, where the federal government had clear jurisdiction over the lands, the Dann sisters exercised reserved rights to use the land under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley – a treaty that ceded no lands to the United States, only granting the U.S. certain access rights to lands. The Indian Claims Commission – created in 1946 to “compensate” tribes for unfairly taken lands (but not return the lands) – decided that U.S. title to Western Shoshone lands had been obtained through gradual encroachment by whites – that is, United State’s title to the land was based on simply taking it!

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

New Student Scholarship on the Patchak Decision

Anna O’Brien has published Misadventures in Indian Law: The Supreme Court’s Patchak Decision in the University of Colorado Law Review

Here is the abstract:

Ever since European colonization of the Americas began in the fifteenth century, there has been friction between the new arrivals and the native inhabitants. The United States has dealt with its “Indian problem” through assimilation, reservations, and eventually, self-determination for Indian tribes. But Indian tribes have never truly lost their sovereignty. Over the years, the United States has developed a vast body of Indian law to try and find a place for tribal sovereignty in a legal and political system created by the conquerors. In a recent case, the Supreme Court created a new rule that will allow non-Indians to sue the Federal Government to divest the government of title to land held in trust for Indian tribes. The decision has dealt a blow to tribal sovereignty by rendering the trust status of tribal lands uncertain. That uncertainty should be removed by legislative action.

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

New Book: Meg Noodin’s “Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature”

From the MSU Press Website:

Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature combines literary criticism, sociolinguistics, native studies, and poetics to introduce an Anishinaabe way of reading. NooriCompF3.inddAlthough nationally specific, the book speaks to a broad audience by demonstrating an indigenous literary methodology. Investigating the language itself, its place of origin, its sound and structure, and its current usage provides new critical connections between North American fiction, Native American literatures, and Anishinaabe narrative. The four Anishinaabe authors discussed in the book, Louise Erdrich, Jim Northrup, Basil Johnston, and Gerald Vizenor, share an ethnic heritage but are connected more clearly by a culture of tales, songs, and beliefs. Each of them has heard, studied, and written in Anishinaabemowin, making their heritage language a part of the backdrop and sometimes the medium, of their work. All of them reference the power and influence of the Great Lakes region and the Anishinaabeakiing, and they connect the landscape to the original language. As they reconstruct and deconstruct the aadizookaan, the traditional tales of Nanabozho and other mythic figures, they grapple with the legacy of cultural genocide and write toward a future that places ancient beliefs in the center of the cultural horizon.

Posted in Michigan Indian, Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Fiction, Language | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Section 1983 Suit against City of Logan, OH Survives Motion to Dismiss — Alleged Racial Harassment by City Office of Native-Owned Business

Here are the materials in Great Elk Dancer for his Elk Nation v. Miller (S.D. Ohio):

17 MJ R&R

25 DCT order

An excerpt:

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this civil rights action under 43 U.S.C. § 1983. In a nutshell, Plaintiff asserts Defendants arbitrarily and capriciously interfered with his business operations and targeted him for harassment because he is a Native American, thereby violating his federal constitutional rights. On August 19, 2013, the Magistrate Judge issued a Second Initial Screening Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) in which he recommended that the Court allow this lawsuit to proceed against Defendants Mayor J. Martin Irvine, Fire Chief Brian Robertson, Officer Josh Mowery, and City Services Director Steve Shaw (collectively, “City Defendants”). R & R 11, ECF No. 17. He also recommended that the Court dismiss the remaining Defendants. Id. In addition, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court deny Defendants’ motions to strike Plaintiffs first amended complaint. Id. at 11 (denying ECF Nos. 9 & 13). The City Defendants filed timely objections to the R & R. ECF No. 19. The Court now considers those objections.

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

Sad Day: Gabriel García Márquez Dies


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

Canadian Federal Court of Appeal affirms that 400,000 Métis have Indian status

In a historic decision, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal today affirmed a 2013 Federal Court ruling that Métis are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.  The decision impacts approximately 350,00 – 400,000 Métis in Canada.  The court did not include non-status Indians in the decision, opting instead to decide Indian status for these groups on a case-by-case basis.

From CBC News:  “[The Daniels decision] could be one of the most significant cases dealing with aboriginal peoples in Canadian history,” said University of Ottawa law professor Larry Chartrand in an interview with CBC News. “It has the potential of completely changing the landscape of aboriginal-Canadian relations.”

News reports are here and here.

A copy of the Daniels decision is here.

In a statement posted here, President Clément Chartier of the Métis National Council stated that “I applaud today’s decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in the Daniels case. It reinforces our longstanding position that the federal government has constitutional responsibility to deal with the Métis.”


Posted in Aboriginal Rights, Author: Wenona T. Singel, Canadian Indian, Métis | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MAIBA / MINNCLE 2014 Indian Law Conference

The Minnesota American Indian Bar Association and Minnesota CLE are sponsoring the 2014 Indian Law Conference on Friday, May 2, 2014.

The conference will take place at Mystic Lake Casino located on the lands of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn is scheduled to speak. A complete agenda can be round here: MAIBA 2014 Indian Law CLE

Posted in Author: Andrew Adams III, legal ethics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. FMC Corp. — Tribal Appellate Court Finds Jurisdiction over Nonmember Phosphate Plant

News coverage via pechanga.

If anyone has the opinion, please send along.

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