Free CLE on Stand-Your-Ground Laws and Indian Country at ASU on Monday

Registration is at 2:30 and the event begins at 3 pm. The agenda is here, and more info. is here.

Posted in Author: Ann Tweedy, Criminal, Symposia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ninth Circuit Holds Consumer Financial Protection Act Applies to Tribes

Here is the opinion in Consumer Financial Protection Board v. Great Plains Lending.

An excerpt:

We have consistently held in our post-Stevens precedent that generally applicable laws apply to Native American tribes unless Congress expressly provides otherwise. In the Consumer Financial Protection Act, a generally applicable law, Congress did not expressly exclude tribes from the Bureau’s enforcement authority. Although the Act defines “State” to include Native American tribes, with States occupying limited co-regulatory roles, this wording falls far short of demonstrating that the Bureau plainly lacks jurisdiction to issue the investigative demands challenged in this case, or that Congress intended to exclude Native American tribes from the Act’s enforcement provisions. Neither have the Tribes offered any legislative history compelling a contrary conclusion regarding congressional intent. At this stage of the proceedings, we affirm the district court’s order enforcing the investigative demands against the Tribal Lending Entities.


At this stage of the proceedings, we conclude that the district court properly held that the Bureau does not plainly lack jurisdiction to issue investigative demands to the tribal corporate entities under the Act. See id. at 1002. Although the Tribal Lending Entities make some appealing arguments, none of the arguments suffices to breach or evade the barrier to their success provided by the Coeur d’Alene revetment.

Briefs here.

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

Onion: “Justice Roberts Stops In Middle Of Oath Of Office To Remind Audience This Just His Job”


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

Part-time Associate Judge Position with Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians

Download(PDF): Request for Qualifications

All Submissions must be submitted in a sealed envelope clearly marked “Tribal Court Comprehensive Planning Demonstration Program – Facilitator Proposal” on the outside of the envelope. Submissions must be RECEIVED by January 24, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, to:

Diane C. Whitson, Tribal Court Administrator
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians
1245 Fulton Avenue
Coos Bay, OR 97420

Faxed Submissions will not be accepted. Any Submissions received after the date and time of opening will be rejected and returned unopened to the Submitter.

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

Larry Leventhal, attorney who championed American Indian rights, dies at 75

Click here for obiturary.

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TICA CLE: “International Treaties, Agreements, and Instruments which include Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources, or Traditional Cultural Expressions” (Feb. 2, 2017)


The description:

This CLE will provide an overview of select international treaties, agreements and other instruments that have provisions regarding Traditional Knowledge (TK), Genetic Resources (GR), or Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE). 

Primarily in the past 25 years, many such documents have been negotiated, adopted or approved globally and regionally among various nation states, including the United States.  TK, GR and TCE generally include those of Indigenous Peoples.  Provisions on TK, GR, or TCE are contained in global or multi-national documents addressing, among other subjects: Human Rights, Climate Change, the Environment, Natural Resources, Free Trade, Food, Biological Diversity, Genetics, and Intellectual Property. 

Currently, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), through an Inter-Governmental Committee, is considering a treaty or other instrument on TK, GR, and TCE.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office likely will be conducting Listening Sessions with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes in 2017 on the WIPO TK, GR and TCE instrument negotiations.  This CLE will help tribal governments and their attorneys and advocates prepare for important discussions at the Listening Sessions.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, cultural resources, international law, TICA | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Who Belongs? From Tribal Kinship to Native Nation Citizenship to Disenrollment” @ U of A Law (March 9 & 10, 2017)

Registration page here. Agenda here.

Here is the flyer (PDF):


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

Fletcher: “A Look At The Next Four Years In Indian Affairs” @


A Look At The Next Four Years In Indian Affairs

By Matthew Fletcher, Michigan State University College of Law

Law360, New York (January 19, 2017, 2:47 PM EST) —

Matthew L.M. Fletcher

The 2016 election brings the return of the Republican Party to the presidency, along with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and an infusion of conservative judges into the federal judiciary. The president-elect doesn’t have much of a track record on these issues. So far, all we know in the Indian affairs context is that Sen. Jeff Sessions (attorney general) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (secretary of the interior) have been nominated. One would think it would be difficult to predict how the next administration will act in the area of Indian affairs. But recent history of Republican administrations, as well as certain time periods in the history of Indian affairs, may be good indicators.

The Reagan administration (1981-1989) and the first Bush administration (1989-1993) began with the appointment of James Watt as secretary of the interior. Watt was known for policies favoring the private exploitation of public lands, usually for natural resources extraction, and converting federal public lands into private ownership. In Indian affairs, the administration invested itself in shrinking the trust obligations of the federal government to Indians and tribes. For some tribes, that meant federal intervention in tribal membership decisions to limit the number of tribal members. For some tribes, that meant support for gaming operations and other commercial enterprises. But it also meant more natural resources extraction from Indian lands, often without much assistance to Indian tribes to ensure environmental justice or commercial fairness to tribal nations.

Contrast that with the Clinton administration (1993-2001), which ushered into more formalized recognition of the federal trust responsibility to Indian tribes and Indians, support for Indian gaming opportunities, and the expansion of tribal self-determination and self-governance compacting. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Ada Deer, along with the assist from Congress, formally acknowledged the sovereignty of 229 Alaska Native nations.

The second Bush administration (2001-2009) was known primarily for unofficially placing a moratorium on trust land acquisitions, restricting off-reservation gaming opportunities for Indian tribes, and rolling back near-completed decisions to acknowledge several Indian tribes, most notably the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. There were three confirmed assistant secretaries for Indian affairs, but they served a total of less than four years. In other words, unconfirmed acting assistant secretaries were in charge for the majority of the second Bush administration’s two terms.

In contrast, the Obama administration took more than a half million acres into trust for Indian tribes. There were two confirmed assistant secretaries, Larry Echo Hawk and Kevin Washburn, who served closer to a total of seven of the eight years of Obama’s terms. Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene more aggressively in suits involving Indian tribes, especially in Indian child welfare matters. Both the DOJ and DOI supported the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the tribal jurisdiction provisions of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

The first hints we have had about the new administration may be the president-elect’s public comments about Indian tribes that he competed with for gaming markets in the 1990s, highlighted in Bryan Newland’s survey. During the campaign, the president-elect made insensitive comments relating to Indians, for example, referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” Perhaps this doesn’t predict much about the president-elect’s future policies relating to Indians, but the statements of his current surrogates suggest that the new administration’s Indian affairs actions may be a combination of the Reagan and Bush administration’s most damaging (to tribal interests) policies.

The nominee for attorney general, Sen. Sessions, voted against the 2013 VAWA reauthorization in part because of the tribal jurisdiction provisions. In his Senate confirmation hearing, he suggested his negative views on tribal courts remain, though he did say he would defend the act as attorney general. As senator, Sessions has a long history of fighting tribal interests in his home state of Alabama. It would be fair to say that the Justice Department is unlikely to continue to support the enhancement of tribal justice systems the same way the Obama administration did.

In the Department of the Interior context, Indian people associated with the president-elect’s transition talked about taking “tribal land away from public treatment,” which some financial commentators excitedly suggested “privatizing” Indian lands. The United States holds billions in assets in trust (and perhaps trillions, according to commentators). If the new administration moves to divest itself of these trust assets, as conservative think tanks advocate, highlighting massive dollar amounts as estimates of the value of those assets would lots of attention. However, Rep. Zinke is known as a strong supporter of federal public lands and conservation efforts. But he also expected run for Senator Jon Tester’s seat in 2018, and might not be long for the Department of the Interior if he is confirmed.

In any event, most Indian tribes aren’t interested in undoing the federal government’s trust obligations to Indian tribes. They want more control over tribal assets with the federal trust responsibility serving as a backdrop. The Obama administration carefully ratcheted back federal regulations limiting tribal ability to lease lands and issue rights of way, for example. These initiatives granted tribes control over trust assets, moves that the private resource extraction industry has fought politically and in court. We can expect the new administration to side with private industry on these issues going forward.

The three prior Republican administrations can be characterized by their negative views about federal public lands and the federal trust responsibility to Indians and tribes, coupled with cozy relationships with extraction industries. We can expect that and more from the new administration. Some tribes, mostly resource tribes, may be delighted by the new administration. For most Indian tribes, this will mean playing defense against federal interventions in their affairs.

Matthew L.M. Fletcher is a professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law. Fletcher is the primary editor and author of the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

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

Justice Dept. Cements Position on Concurrent Federal Criminal Jurisdiction in “Optional” P.L. 280 States



An excerpt:

For decades, conflicting judicial decisions and Department of Justice statements have led to uncertainty about whether the United States has concurrent jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152 and 1153 over Indian-country crimes that fall within an “optional P.L. 280” State’s jurisdiction under Section 7 of Public Law No. 83-280, 67 Stat. 588, 590 (1953). The Acting Solicitor General, after reviewing prior positions of the Department and the underlying legal materials, has now concluded that the litigating position of the United States is that the United States does have this concurrent criminal jurisdiction. Your Offices therefore can bring prosecutions under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1152 and 1153, in accordance with 28 C.F.R. § 50.25(a)(2), notwithstanding any contrary view about optional P.L. 280 jurisdiction that the United States or the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) may have previously expressed.

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

Tenth Circuit Rejects Challenge to State Criminal Jurisdiction on Strawberry Valley Project Area of Ute Reservation

Here is the opinion in Hackford v. State of Utah.






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