Successful Land Into Trust Acquisitions in the Wake of Carcieri v. Salazar

The firm has successfully represented two Tribes in 2011 in their efforts to have the United States take land into trust on their behalf in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The United States accepted a 13-acre parcel of land into trust for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan, which will be used to meet the Band’s vital member housing needs, and a 1.64 acre tract for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe in Washington Stat, which parcel is of tremendous historic and cultural significance to the Tribe. In both cases the United States agreed with the firm’s arguments that the Tribes were “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934 for a host of legal and historical reasons and hence entitled to the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act under the legal standard set out by the Carcieri Court.

The firm remains deeply involved in Carcieri issues, including in efforts to have a Carcieri fix enacted by Congress and to work with the Department of the Interior on Carcieri matters in the meantime.

Tribal Membership Confirmed

The firm recently secured victory in defending a family of tribal members against a longstanding tribal membership disenrollment action. After taking over the matter, the firm argued that, under the express terms of the Tribe’s own enrollment ordinance, the disenrollment action against the members had been unlawful since its inception. Ultimately, the Tribe agreed and stipulated to dismiss the action with prejudice. (Note: this matter represented an exception to the firm’s general policy of not taking matters adverse to Indian nations, even on behalf of tribal members. This matter was exceptional because of the extremely compelling equities involved. The firm retains a strict policy against representing non-Indian entities or individuals in matters adverse to Indian nation interests.)