indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Appeals court upholds tribal verdict in bank loan case
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Filed Under: Law

A non-Indian bank in South Dakota must answer to a tribal court judgment of nearly $900,000 after losing a federal appeal on Tuesday.

In a long-running case, the Plains Commerce Bank asserted it was not subject to the laws of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. A tribal jury convicted the bank of breach of contract, bad faith and discrimination against a tribal couple who operated a cattle ranch on the reservation.

The bank had been doing business with Ronnie and Lila Long for several years. At one point, the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs helped negotiate a loan agreement for the couple.

But when the relationship soured, the bank said the tribal court system lacked jurisdiction to hear the dispute. Tribes, in general, lack authority over non-Indians except under certain conditions outlined in a U.S. Supreme Court in Montana v. U.S.

In a unanimous ruling, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said those conditions were met in the case. The bank established a consensual relationship with the Longs and the bank's conduct can be regulated by the tribal government, the three-judge panel said.

"Because the bank not only transacted with a corporation of conspicuous tribal character, but also formed concrete commercial relationships with the Indian owners of that corporation, we conclude that it engaged in the kind of consensual relationship contemplated by Montana," Judge Diana E. Murphy wrote for the majority.

Furthermore, the tribe has a sovereign interest in regulating how businesses interact with tribal members, the 8th Circuit said. Preventing discrimination and ensuring that tribal members are treated in a fair manner satisfies the Montana test, the court noted.

"By subjecting the bank to liability for violating tribal antidiscrimination law in the course of its business dealings with the Longs, the tribe was setting limits on how nonmembers may engage in commercial transactions with members inside the reservation," Murphy wrote.

The ruling was hailed by Thomas J. Van Norman, the attorney for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. "This case sends out a message in support of the sovereignty of our tribal courts, which are open and fair to all who use them," he said. The tribal jury had awarded $875,982.46 in damages, interest, and costs to the Longs.

The decision builds on a related case that appears to be having positive effects on tribal jurisdiction disputes in Indian Country. In that case, the 9th Circuit allowed a wrongful death lawsuit to be heard in tribal court even though it wasn't brought by a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana.

The 9th Circuit is considered precedent because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review it last June. It has since prompted a second look at another tribal court jurisdiction dispute involving Ford Motor Company and members of the Navajo Nation.

Despite the evolving law, tribal advocates have long complained it is hard to meet the Montana test. "In a series of decisions issued over the last thirty years, the Supreme Court has largely limited the jurisdiction of tribal courts to disputes involving Indians, not outsiders," noted Steven J. Gunn, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, which provided legal assistance to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in the Long case.

The decision in the Montana case states:
A tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members, through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements. A tribe may also retain inherent power to exercise civil authority over the conduct of non-Indians on fee lands within its reservation when that conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the tribe.

In addition to limited civil authority, tribal courts also lack criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. But tribes can prosecute members of other tribes as long as the punishment doesn't exceed the Indian Civil Rights Act.

Appeals Court Decision:
Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company (June 26, 2007)

Lower Court Decision:
Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company (July 18, 2006)

Related Decision:
Smith v. Salish Kootenai College (January 10, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe - http://www.sioux.org
Plains Commerce Bank - http://www.plainscommerce.com
NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project - http://doc.narf.org/sc/index.html

Related Stories:
Navajo jurisdiction dispute back in court (5/10)
9th Circuit vacates tribal jurisdiction ruling (2/2)
Court subjects non-Indian bank to tribal laws (7/20)
Appeals court upholds tribal jurisdiction after rehearing (01/11)
Judge rules in jurisdiction dispute over clinic (11/7)
Federal courts try to decide who is legally Indian (08/24)
Appeals court to rehear tribal jurisdiction case (06/08)
Judge denies tribal jurisdiction over Indian descendant (12/08)
Appeals court rules against tribal jurisdiction (08/09)
Tribal authority over all Indians still unsettled question (06/23)
Supreme Court affirms tribal powers over all Indians (04/20)
Supreme Court hears tribal powers case (01/22)
Supreme Court case on jurisdiction attracts attention (01/08)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News Today: Lakota artist designs 'Water is Life' tipi (12/7)
Tiffany Midge: Don't shame Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for pipeline (12/7)
Editorial: A 'false victory' on the Dakota Access Pipeline easement (12/7)
Redding Rancheria 'excited' about bid to move casino to new site (12/7)
Dakota Access resumes push to complete final portion of pipeline (12/6)
Dave Archambault: It's time for water protectors to return home (12/6)
Kirk Francis: Tribes must remain vigilant despite #NoDAPL victory (12/6)
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn: Numbers behind Standing Rock's victory (12/6)
Supreme Court schedules oral argument in tribal immunity case (12/6)
Congress passes long-awaited land bills for two tribes in Oregon (12/6)
USDA awards first $10M loan to help consolidate Indian land base (12/6)
Native Sun News Today: Lone Indian Republican wins in Montana (12/6)
Lakota Country Times: New rule curbs waste of tribal resources (12/6)
Clara Caufield: Indian Country in good hands with young leaders (12/6)
Non-Indian gaming firm fighting Wilton Rancheria casino project (12/6)
Chukchansi Tribe casino dispute leads to lawsuits in federal court (12/6)
Indian Country cheers historic decision on Dakota Access Pipeline (12/5)
Tribes and Dakota Access headed back to court for hearing in D.C. (12/5)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp again parts with Indian Country on #NoDAPL (12/5)
Dave Archambault: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe thanks many allies (12/5)
Mark Trahant: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to defy history (12/5)
Democracy Now: Thousands of veterans deploy to Standing Rock (12/5)
Dana Lone Hill: Lakota prophecy warns of our water turning black (12/5)
James Giago Davies: Finding the real enemy in the #NoDAPL fight (12/5)
Senate committee ready for hearing on Cobell buy-back program (12/5)
Bureau of Indian Affairs extends comment period on probate rule (12/5)
Native American Farming and Ranching panel gets new members (12/5)
Class III gaming compacts for five tribes in California take effect (12/5)
Lakota Country Times: 'Tanka Bar' company recognized as leader (12/5)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne leaders inaugurated (12/5)
Harlan McKosato: Don't believe everything you read on Facebook (12/5)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Why election was dangerous for Indian people (12/5)
Indian Republicans associated with Trump seek trust land changes (12/5)
Quinault Nation prepares for journey to Standing Rock encampment (12/2)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois prophecies warn of grave dangers (12/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Media gets it wrong on Dakota Access frontlines (12/2)
Bronson Koenig: What I found during my journey to Standing Rock (12/2)
Timothy Egan: Fake cowboys cheered while the real Indians suffer (12/2)
Lakota Country Times: Laced marijuana finds its way to Pine Ridge (12/2)
Native Sun News Today: Owner of Wounded Knee site lowers price (12/2)
David Ganje: An opportunity for tribes to clean up their homelands (12/2)
Mary Annette Pember: Tribal member arrested for string of arsons (12/2)
Tiffany Midge: The women are here and we have a message for you (12/2)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls for safety as veterans head to camp (12/1)
North Dakota sheriff scrubs Facebook of incriminating information (12/1)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp considers role in Donald Trump administration (12/1)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.