Legal

March 01, 2014
By:
Oliver J. Semans

Indian country saw a landmark victory last month in California v. Miami Nation Enterprises, et. al, which ruled against the state of California in favor of two tribal online lenders, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska.

The California Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a suit by the State of California against online lenders owned by the two federally recognized Indian tribes who were represented by Fredericks Peebles & Morgan. The suit was an attempt by the state to shut down the sovereign tribes’ online lending businesses and impose penalties for alleged failure to comply with the California laws governing short-term loans.

This case comes in the wake of a series of other states’ efforts to shut down various tribal lending operations around the country. States have mounted campaigns to restrict and control tribal lending operations in their state even though federally recognized Indian tribes are not subject to state laws in general and are regulated primarily through Federal Indian law. This issue has gained widespread publicity around the country in the last several months.

This California case has now re-affirmed that federally recognized Indian Tribes are sovereign nations, not subject to state control. The court decision will significantly impact other states and other Tribes throughout the country as the issue of tribal sovereignty has been under attack on many fronts over the last several years.

In this case, California claimed that loans made by the tribes are not enforceable under California law because the tribes are not licensed in California and the loan fees exceed California’s enforceable rates.

In a ruling issued on January, 21, 2014 the Court of Appeals rebuffed the state’s claims, finding that the tribes’ lending activities “are subject to tribal laws governing interest rates, loans and cash advance services,” and that California’s lending laws are not enforceable against the tribal lenders. The Court went on to find that “there can be little question” that the tribally owned lenders “function as arms of their respective tribes” and therefore are not subject to California’s jurisdiction.

February 20, 2014
By:
Peter d'Errico

While we wait for the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the case of Michigan v.

January 25, 2014
By:
Charles Kader

The announcement by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow 20 hospitals in the state to dispense medical marijuana is a sea-change shift in policy. The Democrat is up for re-election this year and is going against the grain in the state known for the strict Rockefeller drug laws.

January 08, 2014
By:
Walter Lamar

Despite delays, shutdowns, underfunding and bureaucratic tangles, the bipartisan Indian Law and Order Commission has spent the past several years steadily gathering data on how to fix the dire public safety crisis that plagues tribal lands.

January 07, 2014
By:
Steve Russell

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is God’s gift to corporate America, tying it directly to elected legislators and providing the vehicle for the interests of corporate persons to trump the interests of human persons.

January 06, 2014
By:
Peter d'Errico

The stage is set to determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court will expand its effort to out-do Dr. Frankenstein.

December 23, 2013
By:
Peter d'Errico

Confusion abounded on a crucial point during oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community on December 2, 1013.

December 18, 2013
By:
Charles Kader

Can Indians still make decisions for themselves on their own homeland? That question was recently deliberated in a case involving four men from the Akwesasne Reserve.

December 17, 2013
By:
Steven Newcomb

This column is about oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court that took place on December 2, 2013 in the case Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, Et Al. By way of introduction, a description of what brought the parties to the U.S. Supreme Court.

December 12, 2013
By:
Jay Daniels

This is report card on the manner in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs have managed the Cobell settlement since it was approved in November 2011. Case in point, the second round of the Cobell payments were scheduled for August or September 2013.

December 09, 2013
By:
Shannon Speed & Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo

On October 31, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto utilized new presidential powers of pardon on the very day that they went into effect to free Mayan school teacher Alberto Patishtán Gómez. We hope that President Obama was paying attention.

December 02, 2013
By:
Steven Newcomb

During the papacy of Pope Alexander VI, the Holy See at the Vatican used the papal bull of May 4, 1493 to call for “barbarous nations” to be “subjugated” or “overthrown.” The Latin word employed in the document is “deprimantur,” which generally is translated “to reduce.” Reduction is ano

November 20, 2013
By:
Steven Newcomb

In 1971, Alvin Josephy published his classic Red Power: The American Indians’ Fight for Freedom, which is a compilation of different articles and talks by various Indian and non-Indian personalities.

November 13, 2013
By:
Oliver J. Semans

Oh, what dangerous times we live in. In the days of our ancestors, it took the cavalry and then some to change our way of life.

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