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NEW! - Native American Groups Oppose Norton's Nomination

Gale Norton is Anti-American Indian Sovereignty and Self-determination

Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie
Supreme Court of the United States, 1998. (118 S. Ct. 948, 140 L. Ed. 2d 30)
As Attorney General of Colorado, Norton submitted an amicus brief arguing 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.

Cabazon Band of Mission Indians v. National Indian Gaming Commission
827 F. Supp. 26; 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10081
As Attorney General, Norton intervened against the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians (CA). To empower states at the expense of Native American sovereignty, she sought to narrow the definitions of 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 allowed 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
Supreme Court of the United States, 502 U.S. 251 (1992).
As Attorney General, Norton submitted an amicus brief supporting the ability of counties to tax private lands within Indian reservations. If state taxes went unpaid, counties could then seize the land, thus taking over large portions of Indian Country. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with her and recommended to the tribes that they seek assistance from the U.S. Congress. In dissent, Justice Blackmun wrote "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."

Cass County v. Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
U.S. Supreme Court, 118 S.Ct. 1904 (1998).
As Attorney General, Norton submitted a brief supporting the states' rights agenda 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."

Crow Tribe v. Repsis
73 F.3d 982 (10th Cir. 1995)
As Attorney General of Colorado, Gail Norton supported eradication of the Crow Tribe's (WY) hunting and fishing rights in the Big Horn National Forest. These historic treaty rights, she argued, became null and void when Wyoming attained statehood.

Idaho v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe
117 S.Ct. 2028 (1997)
As Attorney General, Norton sought to prevent the Coeur D'Alene Tribe (ID) from asserting title and jurisdiction over Lake Coeur D'Alene which is located within their reservation. Again trying to promote state dominance over Indian tribes, she argued that the U.S. Constitution gave the states' immunity against suits by American Indians. In this case, however, there was a Presidential Executive Order expressly recognizing the Coeur D'Alene Tribe's rights to Lake Coeur D'Alene.

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida
Supreme Court, 517 U.S. 44 (1996)
As Attorney General, 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
US Supreme Court, 1997, 117 S. Ct. 1404, 137 L.E. 2d 661
As Attorney General, Norton argued that the Ft. Berthold Indian Tribal court (ND) should be denied jurisdiction over legal claims related to the work of contractors who are employed by the tribe to perform work for the tribe. Norton contented that even though the work was paid for by the tribe, performed for the tribe, and took place on tribal lands, legal claims over its adequacy falls under state, not tribal jurisdiction.

State of Alaska v. Katie John, Doris Charles, and other Ahtna Athabaskan Indians; Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and the United States of America.
On Appeal before the Ninth Circuit (en bank)
After stepping down as Attorney General, Norton went back to work for the Mountain States Legal Foundation fighting Native American rights. At the expense of Alaska taxpayers (at least $60,000), she helped the Foundation intervene in this case to assert that the Department Interior can not ensure the subsistence hunting and fish rights of Native Alaskans by designating navigable waterways as public lands. Native Alaskans were given hunting and fishing rights on public lands by the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), but the State of Alaska claims it violates the state constitution, so the Department of Interior was forced to step in to enforce it federally. The federal right was upheld by the District of Alaska and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is currently being reviewed en bank.

Amoco Production Co. v. Southern Ute Indian Tribe
No. 98-830 1998 U.S. Briefs 830 October Term, 1998 March 4, 1999
Mountain States Legal Foundation submitted an amicus brief in support of Amoco arguing that the company did not have to pay royalties to the Southern Ute Tribe for natural gas extracted from the coal taken from the Southern Ute Tribe Reservation (CO).

Merrion v. Jicarilla Apache Tribe
U.S. Supreme Court, 1982, 455 U.S. 130, 102 S.Ct. 894, 71 L.Ed. 21
The Mountain States Legal Foundation argued in this pivotal case that the Jicarilla Apache Tribe (NM) 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. WY1998)
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 in the month of June in order to allow northern plains Indians to conduct religious ceremonies in an undisturbed, reverent environment. The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the National Park Service, the 10th Circuit Appeals Court affirmed the lower court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to
hear the case or overturn the 10th Circuit Ruling.

Mt. Graham Red Squirrel v. Madigan
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Nos. 89-16138, 90-15400, 90-16125, 90-16172
1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 28997; 91 Daily Journal DAR 15609
Mountain States Legal Foundation intervened in the case, arguing against protection of the endangered Mt. Graham Red Squirrel from habitat destruction. Mt. Graham, especially the area inhabited by the red squirrel, is sacred to the San Carlos Apaches. Apache groups also litigated on religious infringement grounds to stop the encroachment.