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Gale Norton's Indian Case Summaries
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See Also --> Norton Attacks American Indian Rights and Norton at Interior - fairness for Indians, or Watt now?

Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie,
Supreme Court of the United States, 1998.
(118 S. Ct. 948, 140 L. Ed. 2d 30)

The brief submitted by Gail Norton argues that Alaska Native lands aren't subject to tribal self-governance as part of federal "Indian Country." This decision expropriated millions of acres of Indian land in Alaska from the Indian tribes who took part in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

827 F. Supp. 26; 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10081

Gale Norton as the Attorney General of Colorado intervened in this suit brought by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. She sought to strengthen the states'rights movements' efforts to narrowly define Class I and Class II gaming such that various methods of electronic gaming would be subject to state-tribal compacts, including electronic pull-tabs. Meanwhile the State of Colorado allows the proliferation of several dozen non-Indian casinos in mountain towns above Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder.

County of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation,
502 U.S. 251 (1992).

Norton argued that counties be allowed to tax patented lands within the reservation lands; when taxes remained unpaid the counties could then foreclose upon the lands and seize them. The US Supreme Court agreed with her and recommended to the tribes that they seek assistance from the U.S. Congress. Regarding this decision, Justice Blackmun wrote in his dissent "I am less confident than my colleagues that the 31 Yakima Indian families likely to be rendered landless by today's decision are well-positioned to lobby for change in the vast corridors of Congress."

118 S.Ct. 1904 (1998).

Gale Norton submitted a brief supporting the states' right movement efforts to allow state taxation of any alienable lands held by a tribe, and not just those lands that were held as taxable by express intent of Congress. She asked the U.S. Supreme Court "to hold that unrestricted fee patented lands owned by Indian tribes or by tribal members continue to be subject to ad valorem property taxes imposed by state and local governments."

73 F.3d 982 (10th Cir. 1995)

In regards to the Big Horn National Forest lands, the treaty rights (hunting and fishing rights) of the Crow Tribe were extinguished because lands that were a former U.S. territory became part of a new state. This affirmed the Ward v. Race Horse decision which held that Indian treaty rights were generally extinguished in territories that became states.

Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe,
117 S.Ct. 2028 (1997)

Gail Norton sought to prevent the Coeur D'Alene Tribe from asserting title and jurisdiction over Lake Coeur D'Alene (located within the reservation). Her argument was that the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's legal efforts to protect their jurisdiction was prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, because the 11th Amendment established immunity for the states from lawsuits. This was all in spite of an Presidential Executive Order recognizing the Coeur D'Alene rights to Lake Coeur D'Alene.

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida,
517 U.S. 44 (1996)

Gale Norton sought to strengthen the shield that States enjoy from lawsuits by arguing that Congress couldn't force the State of Florida to enter into a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. But this case had broader implications, Justice Steven's in his dissent writes that the decision not only "precludes Congress from establishing a ... statutory scheme under which Indian tribes may seek the aid of a federal court to secure a State's good faith negotiations over gaming..." It also "prevents Congress from providing a federal forum for a broad range of actions against States, from those sounding in copyright and patent law, to those concerning bankruptcy, environmental law and the regulation of our vast national economy."

Strate v A-1 Contractors,
US Supreme Court, 1997, 117 S. Ct. 1404, 137 L.E. 2d 661

In this case Norton argues in her brief that the Ft. Berthold Indian Tribal court should be denied jurisdiction in regards to claims resulting from the activities of contractors who are employed by the tribe to perform work for the tribe. It is Norton's contention that the contractors did not actually accept the jurisdiction of the Tribe, even though they were working for them, instead, she argues, the contractors are protected by state jurisdiction.

Amoco Production Co. v. Southern Ute Indian Tribe,
No. 98-830 1998 U.S. Briefs 830 October Term, 1998 March 4, 1999

In this case the Mountain States Legal Foundation argues against including as part of the coal royalties owed to the Southern Ute Tribe, the value of the natural gas extracted from the coal by Amoco.

Merrion v. Jicarilla Apache Tribe,
US Supreme Court, 1982, 455 U.S. 130, 102 S.Ct. 894, 71 L.Ed. 21

The Mountain States Legal Foundation argues in this pivotal case that the Jicarilla Apache does not have a right to impose a severance tax upon oil and natural gas removed from Apache lands.

Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association v. Babbitt,
1998 WL195624 (D.Wy.1998)

William Perry Pendley, Jr. and Todd Welch of the Mountain States Legal Foundation sought to prevent the National Park Service from enacting a management plan for Devil's Tower that discouraged rock climbing permits in the month of June. This was in part a recognition by the National Park Service of the claims of the northern plains Indian tribes who conducted important ceremonies at the site during June.

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See Also --> Norton Attacks American Indian Rights and Norton at Interior - fairness for Indians, or Watt now?

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Michael R. Meuser
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