Native American Law Watch Summer 2017

Current Law Watch


  • BIA Regulations on Appraisal/Valuation of Indian Property
    On June 10, 2016, Congress passed the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (ITARA), and on June 22, 2016, President Barack Obama signed it into law.  Although the ITARA contains the outline of an ambitious program pursuant to which a Tribe may take over administration of tribal trust resources from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the first element of the Act to be reflected in final regulations are those contained in the Final Rule published June 26, 2017. The new rule establishes an alternative procedure for the appraisal or valuation of Indian lands when a tribe or individual Indian landowner submits to the Department of the Interior an appraisal or valuation and requests that the submitted appraisal be used to value the land or other trust resources. Continue Reading
  • Dakota Access Pipeline Project Update: Corps’ NEPA Analysis Flawed-In PartOn June 14, 2017, Judge Boasberg, a U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia, issued a lengthy Memorandum Opinion granting in part the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Motions for Summary Judgment.  Judge Boasberg concluded that while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental assessment prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act was adequate in many respects, the Corps failed to “sufficiently consider the pipeline’s environmental effects” on treaty-based hunting, fishing, and water rights arising from potential oil spills, as opposed to impacts from construction. The court remanded the permit approval to the Corps but did not immediately vacate the Corps’ decision.  Continue Reading
  • A Historic Moment in Indian Water Rights in New Mexico: Entry of the Aamodt Final Decree
    On July 14, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico entered its final decree in State of New Mexico, ex rel. State Engineer v. Aamodt, a state stream adjudication filed in 1966 to determine the rights of water users in the Nambé-Pojoaque-Tesuque River Basin in northern New Mexico. With entry of the final decree, the water rights of the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, the United States, and thousands of individual water users in the Basin are established, and a critical step in the construction of a regional water system pursuant to a Congressionally-approved settlement agreement is met. Continue Reading


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