Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Renews Interest in Wolfchild v. United States

In an unexpected development, on January 13, 2010, the Court requested a response from the United States in Wolfchild (and Zephier) v. United States, a case which involves two groups of individuals who claim to be the descendants of the ―loyal‖ Mdewakanton Sioux.

The United States had waived its right of response—usually an indicator to the Court that the case is not worthy of review. Evidently, something in the case has caught the interest of the Court. The Wolfchild petitioners are seeking review of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which reversed the trial court‘s finding of breach of trust by the United States.

The Federal Circuit held that (1) the 1888, 1889 and 1890 Appropriation Acts enacted for the benefit of the loyal Mdewakanton Sioux and their lineal descendants which included lands, improvements to lands and monies as the corpus did not create a trust; and (2) even if the referenced Appropriations Acts did create a trust, the 1980 Act terminated that trust by transferring beneficial ownership to the three Mdewakanton Indian communities (Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Sioux Community, Lower Sioux Indian Community and Prairie Island Indian Community).

This case could become a vehicle for the Court to further erode the nature of the United States‘ trust responsibility, and to limit the scope of the fiduciary duties the United States owes to the Indian people.


Anonymous said...

This is good news for those who are looking for justice from the government for not doing their fiduciary duties

this also provides some additional hope for those who have been wronged by their tribes. The govt. Must protect the individual. Indian

A Temecula Band Member said...

The BIA and The US Government have culpability in the theft/hijacking of the Temecula Band of Luiseno Indians.

Wolfchild will help get it back to the people.

Anonymous said...

Good news from the US Supremes. It's time that things start going the way of the individual Indian. Tribe have been getting away with brutalizing their memberships..and the government has a responsibility to protect them

Anonymous said...

Doesnt the government have a responsibility to Indians in CA?

How could they let a guy like Fletcher get away with what he did at the Riverside BIA?

What did he do to qualify for a job at the PDC?

cideways said...

What I find most interesting is, Wolfchild is not a new case nor an Indian gaming case. This is an ongoing case that has been in courts since what seems like ten plus years. So the fact that they are hearing it now is GREAT news. Either Indian gaming disenrollment issues have helped this case, or this case can help rightful members from being disenrolled. Wolfchild has been fighting this fight much longer than the True Pechanga, Pala Indians, Snoqualmie, Chukchansi, et al. having been fighting and they deserve justice.

Anonymous said...

This case has nothing to do with disenrollments or Indian gaming per se.

It has to do with the GOVERNMENT'S fiduciary responsibility to Native Americans.

It is the GOVERNMENT'S responsibility to protect Natives who have had their rights violated by elected tribal officials. They are not all-powerful gods. They are temporary caretakers of tribal governments.

Those elected officials from Pechanga, Picayune, Redding,Enterprise, among many others in California have wronged Native Americans and the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has FAILED to protect us.

That is where WOLFCHILD comes in. Anyone want to bet that some tribal leaders HOPE that the USSC does not hear the case?