32nd Annual Michigan State University Powwow: April 18, 2015

Here is the flyer:


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

Indian Groups Persuade Federal Court to Preserve Judge Cebull Emails

Here are the materials in Four Directions v. Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States (N.D. Cal.):

34 Petition to Preserve Evidence

35 Opposition & Motion to Dismiss

38 Response to 35

39 Reply in Support of 35

53 DCT Order

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

GAO Report on Tribal Title IV-E Programs


Link here.

Indian tribes developing title IV-E foster care programs faced resource constraints and reported challenges adopting some program requirements. According to GAO’s interviews with tribal and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, the resource constraints faced by tribes include limited numbers of staff and staff turnover. While the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) allows tribes to administer a title IV-E foster care program, it generally did not modify title IV-E’s requirements for tribes. By contrast, some other programs administered by HHS offer tribes additional flexibilities, provided they are consistent with the objectives of the program. Given tribes’ resource constraints and cultural values, adopting some title IV-E requirements has been difficult. For example, officials from 6 of 11 tribes developing title IV-E programs that GAO interviewed said that the requirement to electronically submit case-level data on all children in foster care was challenging. In addition, 7 of these 11 tribal officials reported that incorporating termination of parental rights—which severs the legal parent-child relationship in certain circumstances—into their tribal codes was challenging because it conflicts with their cultural values. HHS recognizes that termination of parental rights may not be part of an Indian tribe’s traditional beliefs; however according to the agency it lacks the statutory authority to provide a general exemption for tribal children from the requirement.

Report here (pdf, 47 pages)

Posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Alaska SCT Upholds Subsistence Hunting Rules against Challenge from Conservation Group

Here is the opinion in Alaska Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund v. State:

Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund v State

An excerpt:

Regulations promulgated by the Alaska Board of Game establish two different systems of subsistence hunting for moose and caribou in Alaska’s Copper Basin region: (1) community hunts for groups following a hunting pattern similar to the one traditionally practiced by members of the Ahtna Tene Nene’ community; and (2) individual hunts.1 A private outdoors group, the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, argues that this regulatory framework violates the equal access and equal protection clauses of the Alaska Constitution by establishing a preference for a certain user group. The Fund also argues that the regulations are not authorized by the governing statutes, that they conflict with other regulations, and that notice of important regulatory changes was not properly given to the public. But because we conclude that the Board’s factual findings support a constitutionally valid distinction between patterns of subsistence use, and because the Board’s regulations do not otherwise violate the law, we affirm the superior court’s grant of summary judgment to the State, upholding the statute and the Board regulations against the Fund’s legal challenge.


Alaska Brief

Appellant’s Opening Brief

Appellant’s Reply Brief

Brief of Appellee Ahtna Tene Nene’

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

Alaska COA Rejects Yup’ik Free Exercise Defense to Criminal Prosecution for Salmon Fishing

Here is the opinion:

Phillip v. State

An excerpt:

In June 2012, the thirteen defendants in this case — all Yup’ik fishermen living a subsistence lifestyle — were charged with violating the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s emergency orders restricting fishing for king salmon on the Kuskokwim River. The defendants moved for dismissal of the charges, asserting that their fishing for king salmon was religiously based activity, and that they were entitled to a religious exemption from the emergency orders under the free exercise clause of the Alaska Constitution.

Briefs are here.

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

Oklahoma v. Hobia Cert Petition


Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (as filed)

Question presented:

Does Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 134 S.Ct. 2024 (2014), require the dismissal of a State’s suit to prevent tribal officers from conducting gaming that would be unlawful under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and a state-tribal compact when

• the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief has been brought against tribal officials – not the tribe;
• the gaming will occur in Indian country, on the land of another tribe; and

• the state-tribal compact’s arbitration provision does not require arbitration before filing suit?

Lower court materials here.

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

Wisconsin Judicare Indian Law Office Job Posting


DESCRIPTION Wisconsin Judicare’s Indian Law Office is hiring an additional attorney to represent Native American individuals on a variety of issues including civil and criminal defense representation in the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Court.  Wisconsin Judicare is a non-profit legal services law firm serving northern Wisconsin where there are 11 Indian reservations.  This attorney will be responsible for representing members of the Ho-Chunk in both tribal and state court.  The Judicare office is in Wausau, however this position could be based in another location depending on the candidate. Position start date is early June.


DUTIES (1) Represent individual tribal members charged with crimes in the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Court; (2) Represent individuals in civil cases (family law, elder law, and estate planning) in tribal and state court.  (3) Conduct community education and outreach.


QUALIFICATIONS (1) Must be admitted to practice law in Wisconsin; (2) admitted, or the ability to gain admission within 60 days of hire to the Ho-Chunk Nation Bar.  (3) Good communications and advocacy skills; and (4) Knowledge of Native American issues, and familiarity with the Ho-Chunk Nation preferred.



SALARY DOE.  There are excellent fringe benefits.



APPLICATION PROCEDURE Please submit resume, writing sample and 3 references to David Armstrong, Director, Indian Law Office, Wisconsin Judicare, P.O. Box 6100, Wausau, WI 54402 or at darmstrong@judicare.org.  For inquiries call David at 1-800-472-1638 ext. 309.






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

First Circuit Briefs in Luckerman v. Narragansett Tribe


Narrangansett Brief

Luckerman Brief

Lower court materials here.

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

Tenth Circuit Briefs in Flute v. United States — Sand Creek Massacre Trust Accounting Claims


Flute Opening Brief

US Answer Brief

Lower court materials here.

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

Call for Written Comments on New AFCARS Regulations

We’ve written about this in the past. Here is a letter from NICWA explaining more about the regulations, and the reason for written comments (and if you scroll to the bottom, they’ve even provided a sample comments letter):

Dear Advocates for the Indian Child Welfare Act,

The National Indian Child Welfare Association has been diligently working for over 25 years to increase state compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This has included training of state and tribal workers, helping tribes develop inter-governmental agreements with states, participating in state and federal ICWA cases, and advocating for federal monitoring of state ICWA compliance. One of the areas where the greatest need exists is data collection. No federal agency collects comprehensive data on the status of native children and their families who are involved in state child welfare proceedings and subject to ICWA.

 NICWA has advocated for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) under the Department of Health and Human Services to collect ICWA data on individual cases, both because of the relationship they have with states through funding and policy, and because of federal law and policy that directs them to collect some related data. ACF has resisted efforts to collect more comprehensive ICWA data in the past, but draft regulations published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2015 propose collecting new data within the federal government’s largest data system for children who are placed in out of home care by state or county child welfare authorities. This system is the Automated Foster Care and Adoption Reporting System (AFCARS) and these proposed regulations present the best opportunity for tribal nations to finally convince ACF to collect ICWA data.

 NICWA is making the case that these proposed regulations should also include ICWA data elements, which are open for public comment until April 10, 2015, but we need your help if we are going to convince ACF to do this. The process for evaluating comments and what changes should be made in AFCARS will look at the number of individual comments ACF receives as well as the content of those comments. In other words, if we are able to provide ACF with substantial numbers of comments that recommend the inclusion of ICWA data elements in AFCARS, we may finally have a federal data system that regularly collects and tracks ICWA data. To make your job of filing comments easier, NICWA has provided a sample comments letter that you can use or modify as you see fit. We are also providing instructions below on how to file your comments electronically.

 This is an almost a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally get a more comprehensive collection of ICWA data. The last time AFCARS was open for substantive changes was in the early 1990’s so we probably won’t see another opportunity like this for many, many years. NICWA will be filing comments, but we also need your help too. If you have any questions about AFCARS, the proposed regulations, or how this will help ICWA compliance, please don’t hesitate to contact either myself or Addie Smith addie@nicwa.org. I want to thank you in advance for your help to increase the information and tools we have to increase protections under ICWA for our native children and families.

Best Regards,

David Simmons

Notice of Public Rulemaking on AFCARS


AFCARS Sample Comments Letter

Instructions on how to file comments electronically via www.regulations.gov (see link below for submission)


  1. In the Comment box provide your name, contact information, and who you are submitting the comments on behalf of. State that you are uploading a file attachment that contains your comments. Don’t try to copy your comments letter in here unless it is less than 5000 characters (approximately 1.25 pages of text).
  2. In the Upload File(s) box click on Choose File then select the comments letter from your computer.
  3. In the First Name and Last Name boxes add the contact person’s name
  4. Check the appropriate box for whether you want to show your contact information or whether you are submitting the comments on behalf of a third party.

David Simmons, MSW | Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

National Indian Child Welfare Association

5100 SW Macadam Avenue, Suite 300

Portland, OR 97239

Posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment