Indian Law Articles

Amber Alert for Tribes

The Department of Justice is talking to tribal leaders about the possibility of bringing the Amber Alert system to Indian country. The Department of Justice is encouraging tribes to develop plans, similar to states, that are tailored to their individual needs.

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Tribes Seeking Exclusion from NLRA

Representative J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) has introduced a bill that would provide that tribes are not subject to the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). As some may recall, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union ("HERE") had filed a complaint against the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians before the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") a few years ago. Although many tribes filed briefs before the NLRB urging it to recognize that tribes are not subject to the NLRA or, at a minimum, have the same authority as states to enact their own laws governing union shops and similar matters governed by the NLRA, the NLRB failed to recognize or respect tribal sovereignty or self-government and chose to treat tribes as though they are private entities subject to the NLRA. The Board's decision is currently on review before the D.C. Circuit.

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Cobell v. Kempthorne, D.C. Dist. Ct. (a.k.a. "Indian Trust Litigation")

On July 11, 2006, the D.C. Circuit removed Judge Royce C. Lamberth from the case, claiming that he had shown too much bias against the Department of Interior.

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Tsosie v. United States, 452 F.3d 1161 (10th Cir. 2006)

The family of a deceased member of the Navajo Nation filed an action against the United States claiming that the Indian Health Service ("IHS") was negligent in failing to diagnose the hantavirus. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the treating physician was an independent contractor, not an employee, at the time of treatment. As a result, the Court held, the United States could claim an independent contractor defense to the suit and could not be held liable for the physicians acts under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which is limited to employees. Because of the Court's decision, the suit is dismissed.

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