Tribal Supreme Court Project Update: Supreme Court likely to make decision soon in land-into-trust case


The Tribal Supreme Court Project, a joint project of NARF & NCAI, anticipates a decision in the very near future in Carcieri v. Kempthorne, a case involving a challenge by the State of Rhode Island to the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land in to trust for the benefit of the Narragansett Indian Tribe under the provisions of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Rhode Island argued that the Secretary’s authority to take land in trust for the benefit of “Indians” was limited by Congress to recognized Indian tribes now under federal jurisdiction in 1934.

The Project has continued to focus its energy and resources on two other Indian law cases that the Court is scheduled to decide this term: United States v. Navajo Nation and State of Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs. In addition, the Project has committed substantial resources to the petition for writ of certiorari in Navajo Nation v. U.S. Forest Service filed on January 7, 2009 which seeks review of a decision by an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversing a three-judge panel decision and holding that the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a permit allowing the use of recycled sewage waste-water to manufacture snow for a ski resort on the San Francisco Peaks a sacred-site for many American Indian Tribes does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). (Read more)…