indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Supreme Court agrees to hear tribal jurisdiction case
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Filed Under: Law

After refusing to hear a number of Indian law disputes, the U.S. Supreme Court last Friday accepted a case that tests the limits of tribal jurisdiction.

The case involves a non-Indian bank and an Indian couple from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Plains Commerce Bank says it doesn't have to answer to a breach of contract and discrimination lawsuit filed in tribal court by Ronnie and Lila Long, who own a cattle operation.

In most situations, that would be true. Tribes, in general, lack jurisdiction over non-Indians except in certain conditions outlined in Montana v. US, a Supreme Court case from 1981.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last June ruled that the conditions were satisfied in the case. The bank established a consensual relationship with the Longs and the bank's conduct can be regulated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's government, the three-judge panel said in a unanimous ruling.

"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.

The decision marked one of the rare occasions in which a tribal court lawsuit has survived the Montana test. Tribal advocates have noted it is very difficult to meet the Supreme Court's high bar.

The justices will now get a chance to revisit its seminal ruling with the Plains Commerce case. The bank's opening brief is due February 12, with a response from the Longs due a month after that.

The case is being watched closely by the Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians. The two organizations, through their joint Supreme Court Project, monitor Indian law litigation in hopes of preventing a repeat of the disastrous 2001 term, when tribal interests lost nearly every case that went before the justices.

Since then, the court has accepted just a handful of Indian law cases. Only two major rulings -- a land-into-trust case involving the Oneida Nation of New York and a taxation dispute between the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the state of Kansas -- have gone against tribal interests.

The Supreme Court has been asked to revisit Montana as recently as 2006. But the justices turned down a case that affected a wrongful death lawsuit on the Flathead Reservation in Montana.

In that case, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes could hear the lawsuit even though it was not filed by a tribal member. The 9th Circuit, citing Montana, said tribal interests were directly affected.

As a result of the Salish and Kootenai case, the 9th Circuit last year revived a lawsuit filed by members of the Navajo Nation against Ford Motor Company. The parents of Esther Todecheene, a tribal police officer, allege Ford manufactured a defective vehicle but Ford says the Navajo courts lack jurisdiction to hear the case.

If the Supreme Court upholds the 8th Circuit in the Plains Commerce case, the bank faces a judgment of nearly $900,000 in tribal court.

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 07-411 | Petition | Opposition

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:
Appeals court upholds tribal verdict in bank loan case (6/28)
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge's David Michaud wins fighting match (12/19)
Mark Trahant: Old school budgets a better deal for Indian Country (12/19)
Ruth Hopkins: Boycott a repeat offender of cultural appropriation (12/19)
8th Circuit sides with Omaha Tribe in reservation boundary case (12/19)
BIA finalizes rule to add Alaska tribes to land-into-trust process (12/19)
Obama signs measure to extend VAWA tribal provision to Alaska (12/19)
Wyandotte Nation set to break ground on $1.4M cultural center (12/19)
Man from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe charged for cousin's murder (12/19)
Opponents of Cowlitz Tribe plan appeal of gaming land decision (12/19)
Menominee Nation off-reservation casino supporters hold rally (12/19)
Bear River Band hires tribal member as casino general manager (12/19)
Column: Poarch Creek gaming is only thing working in Alabama (12/19)
Column: Wait for decision on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (12/19)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurates new leadership (12/18)
Walt Lamar: Cooperation helps address crime in Indian Country (12/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tournament shows hope of the Lakota people (12/18)
Editorial: Showing caution for marijuana sales in Indian Country (12/18)
Editorial: New York governor makes right call to outlaw fracking (12/18)
Fines for foes of Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino (12/18)
New York passes over tribes for first commercial casino licenses (12/18)
Factions of Cayuga Nation in court over Class II gaming facility (12/18)
Deadline extended for commercial casino eyed by Quapaw Tribe (12/18)
Opinion: Another casino isn't answer to Connecticut's problems (12/18)
Native Sun News: Youth take on lead role in Dakota memorial ride (12/17)
Mark Trahant: NCAI launches new campaign against racist mascot (12/17)
Norm DeWeaver: Job market is a disaster zone in Indian Country (12/17)
Amanda Blackhorse: Fake chiefs and fake headdresses must go (12/17)
DOI makes $9M in buy-back offers on Coeur d'Alene Reservation (12/17)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes see success with two bills in Congress (12/17)
Boyd Cothran: Torture justified by treatment of Indian prisoners (12/17)
Rep. Gosar faces criticism over bill that benefits Hualapai Tribe (12/17)
Navajo Nation's highest court dismisses challenge to candidate (12/17)
Column: Tribal voices often minimized in environmental debate (12/17)
Column: Chief Cliff still an undeniably spiritual place in Montana (12/17)
Native activists in Brazil protest land bill with bows and arrows (12/17)
Shakopee Tribe funds Eastern Shoshone Tribe casino expansion (12/17)
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.