Indian Law Articles

House Passes Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill

On Wednesday, October 24, the House of Representatives passed the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act by a vote of 261-153. The vote was very much along party lines, with every Democrat present except one - Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) - voting in favor of the bill and most Republicans voting against it.

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Bush Signs Native American $1 Coin Act

On Thursday, September 20, President Bush signed the Native American $1 Coin Act into law. The Act provides for a new back to the Sacagawea dollar coin to honor Native Americans and their contributions to the United States. A new Indian person or contribution of Indian peoples will be approved each year. The front of the coin will still be of Sacagawea.

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United Nations Adopts Indigenous Rights Declaration

After 20 years of negotiations and three decades of drafts, on September 13, the United Nations General Assembly voted 143 to 4 to adopt the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The only countries voting against the Declaration were the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Eleven countries abstained from voting.

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Democratic Presidential Candidates Say 'No' to Prez on the Rez

All top three Democratic Presidential candidates have said they will not attend the Prez on the Rez debate to be held at the Morongo Reservation in August. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards all turned down the debate, citing scheduling conflicts. On the other hand, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Senator Mike Gravel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich all have agreed to attend.

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Senate Once Again Looking to Amend IGRA

In response to the D.C. Circuit's decision in CRIT v. NIGC, the Senate is working on a draft amendment to IGRA to, once again, expand the power and authority of the National Indian Gaming Commission ("NIGC"). In CRIT v. NIGC, the D.C. Circuit was the third judicial or quasi-judicial body to instruct the NIGC that it lacks authority to regulate class III gaming. But, of course, the NIGC cannot be satisfied in its unending quest for unfettered and unlimited authority over Indian gaming.

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Indian Affairs Committee Approves Apology Resolution

On Thursday, May 10, 2007, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved Senate Joint Resolution 4, a resolution which apologizes to Indian peoples for the United States' "official depredations and ill-conceived policies" toward them. The resolution is sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), who is a current candidate in the Republican presidential primaries for the 2008 presidency.

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Cobell Trial Date Set

On April 20, 2007, the new judge, James Robertson, assigned to the Cobell litigation set trial to begin on October 10, 2007 and "continue as long as necessary." The trial is designed to determine, among other things, whether the Individual Indian Money ("IIM") accounting that the Department of Interior has performed so far has fulfilled, or is fulfilling, the mandates of the Indian Trust Management Reform Act of 1994; whether Interior has "unreasonably delayed" accounting for IIM accounts; and whether "further relief, if any, should be ordered." Since the government has lost or destroyed so many records of the IIM accounts, the government may not be able to show an accounting for each IIM account. Interior has attempted to use statistical sampling to substitute for an actual accounting, which the plaintiffs object to, but Judge Robertson noted that Interior's accounting obligations are "unresolved," including "the question of whether statistical sampling will satisfy fiduciary standards." The first pre-hearing conference is scheduled for May 9, 2007.

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Supreme Court Rejects Review of Cobell Issues

Without comment, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the Cobell plaintiffs' appeal of the removal of Judge Royce Lamberth from the case at the request of the Bush administration. In July 2006, the D.C. Circuit removed Judge Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, from the Cobell litigation, claiming he had shown bias against the government in his decisions and remarks.

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