Upstate Citizens for Equal., Inc. v. United States, Docket Nos. 15-1688

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtSusan L. Carney, Circuit Judge
Citation841 F.3d 556
Parties Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc., David Brown Vickers, Richard Tallcot, Scott Peterman, Daniel T. Warren, Town of Vernon, New York, Town of Verona, Abraham Acee, Arthur Strife, Plaintiffs–Appellants, v. United States of America, individually, and as trustee of the goods, credits and chattels of the federally recognized Indian nations and tribes situated in the State of New York, Sally M.R. Jewell, in her official capacity as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Michael L. Connor, in his official capacity as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and exercising his delegated authority as assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Elizabeth J. Klein, in her official capacity as Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior, Defendants–Appellees.
Decision Date09 November 2016
Docket Number15-1726,Docket Nos. 15-1688,August Term, 2016

841 F.3d 556

Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc., David Brown Vickers, Richard Tallcot, Scott Peterman, Daniel T. Warren, Town of Vernon, New York, Town of Verona, Abraham Acee, Arthur Strife, Plaintiffs–Appellants,
v.
United States of America, individually, and as trustee of the goods, credits and chattels of the federally recognized Indian nations and tribes situated in the State of New York, Sally M.R. Jewell, in her official capacity as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Michael L. Connor, in his official capacity as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and exercising his delegated authority as assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Elizabeth J. Klein, in her official capacity as Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior, Defendants–Appellees.
*

Docket Nos. 15-1688
15-1726
August Term, 2016

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Argued: May 3, 2016
Decided: November 9, 2016


841 F.3d 559

David Brown Vickers , Fayetteville, NY, for Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc., David Brown Vickers, Richard Tallcot, Scott Peterman and Daniel T. Warren.

Cornelius D. Murray , O'Connell and Aronowitz, Albany, NY, for Town of Vernon, Town of Verona, Abraham Acee and Arthur Strife.

J. David Gunter II (John C. Cruden, Steven Miskinis, Jennifer Turner, on the brief), United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for United States of America, individually, and as trustee of the goods, credits and chattels of the federally recognized Indian nations and tribes situated in the State of New York, Sally M.R. Jewell, in her official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Michael L. Connor, in his official capacity as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and exercising his delegated authority as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Elizabeth J. Klein, in her official capacity as Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior.

Before: Livingston, Chin, and Carney, Circuit Judges.

Susan L. Carney, Circuit Judge:

This case is the latest in a long line of lawsuits in our Circuit regarding the efforts of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York (“the Tribe”) to assert tribal jurisdiction over a portion of its indigenous homeland in central New York State.1 After the

841 F.3d 560

Supreme Court rejected the Tribe's claim to existing, historically-rooted jurisdiction over a portion of the homeland, see City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation , 544 U.S. 197, 125 S.Ct. 1478, 161 L.Ed.2d 386 (2005), the Tribe requested that the United States take approximately 17,000 acres of Tribe-owned land into trust on its behalf in procedures prescribed by § 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The entrustment that the federal government approved in 2008 gave the Tribe jurisdiction over approximately 13,000 acres of land in central New York, allowing the Tribe, among other things, to continue to operate its Turning Stone casino in Verona, New York.

Plaintiffs–Appellants—two towns, a civic organization, and several residents of the area near the trust land—filed these lawsuits in an attempt to reverse the land-into-trust decisions. They now appeal from judgments of the Northern District of New York (Lawrence E. Kahn, J .), granting the summary judgment motions of Defendants–Appellants, the United States and several federal officials.2 The District Court rejected Plaintiffs' claims that the land-into-trust procedures are unconstitutional and that certain provisions of the Indian Land Consolidation Act (“ILCA”), adopted in 1983, bar the United States from taking land into trust for the Tribe.

We agree with the District Court that the entrustment procedure generally, and this entrustment in particular, lie within the federal government's long-recognized “plenary” power over Indian tribes: Neither principles of state sovereignty nor the Constitution's Enclave Clause—which requires state consent for the broadest federal assertions of jurisdiction over land within a state—prevents the federal government from conferring on the Tribe jurisdiction over these trust lands. We further hold that the Oneida Nation of New York is eligible as a “tribe” within the meaning of 25 U.S.C. §§ 465 and 2201(1) for land to be taken into trust on its behalf.3 Accordingly, we AFFIRM the judgments of the District Court.

BACKGROUND

I. Land-into-Trust Procedures (§ 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act)

The origins of this dispute lie in the evolution of federal Indian policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning in the late 19th century, Congress began to partition tribal lands and allocate parcels to individual Indians in a policy known as “allotment.”

841 F.3d 561

Cty. of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes & Bands of Yakima Indian Nation , 502 U.S. 251, 253–54, 112 S.Ct. 683, 116 L.Ed.2d 687 (1992). As the Supreme Court has described, “[t]he objectives of allotment were simple and clear cut: to extinguish tribal sovereignty, erase reservation boundaries, and force the assimilation of Indians into the society at large.” Id. at 254, 112 S.Ct. 683. In the years in which the allotment policy was followed, Congress also stripped tribes of their authority to govern themselves, instead providing that Indians residing on allotted lands would eventually be subject to state civil and criminal jurisdiction. Id. at 254–55, 112 S.Ct. 683.

Because Indians could still sell their allotted lands to non-Indians, however, “many of the early allottees quickly lost their land through transactions that were unwise or even procured by fraud.” Id. at 254, 112 S.Ct. 683. For this and other reasons, the allotment policy “came to an abrupt end in 1934.” Id. at 255, 112 S.Ct. 683. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (“IRA”)—including its § 5, originally codified at 25 U.S.C. § 465 —“fundamentally restructured the relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government, reversing the Nineteenth Century goal of assimilation and embodying ‘principles of tribal self-determination and self-governance.’ ” Connecticut ex rel. Blumenthal v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior , 228 F.3d 82, 85 (2d Cir. 2000) (“Connecticut ”) (quoting Cty. of Yakima , 502 U.S. at 255, 112 S.Ct. 683 ). The IRA repudiated the allotment policy and aimed to restore to tribes, or replace, the lands and related economic opportunities that had been lost to them under it. See Felix S. Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law § 15.07[1][a] (2012) (“Cohen, Handbook ”).

The IRA therefore authorized the Secretary of the Interior, in her discretion, to acquire land and other property interests “within or without existing reservations ... for the purpose of providing land for Indians.” Pub. L. No. 73–383, § 5, 48 Stat. 984, 985 (1934) (codified at 25 U.S.C. § 465 ).4 “Title to any lands or rights acquired pursuant to this Act,” it provides, “shall be taken in the name of the United States in trust for the Indian tribe or individual Indian for which the land is acquired.” Id. Land held by the federal government in trust for Indians under this provision “is generally not subject to (1) state or local taxation; (2) local zoning and regulatory requirements; or, (3) state criminal and civil jurisdiction [over Indians], unless the tribe consents to such jurisdiction.” Connecticut , 228 F.3d at 85–86 (citations omitted). Under the IRA as passed in 1934, tribes were entitled to opt out of its provisions, including the land-into-trust provisions of § 5, by majority vote.5 See Pub. L. No. 73–383, § 18, 48 Stat. 984, 988 (1934) (codified at 25 U.S.C. § 478 ).

841 F.3d 562

The IRA's implementing regulations, promulgated by the U.S. Department of the Interior, create a process by which tribes and individual Indians can request that the Department take land into trust on their behalf. See 25 C.F.R. § 151.9. Upon receiving such a request, the Secretary must provide notice to state and local governments whose rights would be affected by the acquisition and give them an opportunity to respond. See § 151.10. In making her final decision, the Secretary is to consider enumerated criteria, including the tribe's need for land “to facilitate tribal self-determination, economic development, or Indian housing,” § 151.3(a)(3), and “the impact on the State and its political subdivisions resulting from the removal of the land from the tax rolls,” § 151.10(e). The Secretary is also directed to consider jurisdictional problems and conflicts of land use that would be created by an entrustment. Id.

II. Factual Background6

For more than four decades, the Tribe has clashed with state and local governments and residents in upstate New York over its efforts to regain governmental authority with respect to a portion of its extensive indigenous homeland. Prior opinions of this Court and the Supreme Court have detailed the complex history of the relationship between New York and the Tribe, and in particular their disputes regarding the Tribe's jurisdiction over its reservation in central New York. See Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Cty. of Oneida , 414 U.S. 661, 663–65, 94 S.Ct....

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  • Tanvir v. FNU Tanzin, Docket No. 16-1176
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • May 2, 2018
    ...Stenberg v. Carhart , 530 U.S. 914, 942, 120 S.Ct. 2597, 147 L.Ed.2d 743 (2000) ; Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556, 575 (2d Cir. 2016) ("In general, statutory definitions control the meaning of statutory words.") (internal quotation marks omitted). Further......
  • Mobil Cerro Negro, Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Docket No. 15-707
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • July 11, 2017
    ...urges us to apply the rule of construction known as the "last-antecedent" rule. See Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States, 841 F.3d 556, 576 (2d Cir. 2016) (citing Lockhart v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 958, 962, 194 L.Ed.2d 48 (2016) ). Under that rule, in a lis......
  • Stand Up for Cal. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, Case No. 1:17-cv-00058 (TNM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 7, 2019
    ...the land into trust, and not by the title examination procedures."), aff'd sub nom., Upstate Citizens for Equal., Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556 (2d Cir. 2016). Stand Up does not have an interest in either the land acquisition or the title examination process, instead challenging the ......
  • Club One Casino, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, Case No. 1:16-cv-01908-AWI-EPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • July 13, 2018
    ...tribe "have jurisdiction" over the gaming site. Wampanoag Tribe , 853 F.3d at 624 ; Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556, 566 (2nd Cir. 2016)cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, ––– S.Ct. ––––, 199 L.Ed.2d 372 (2017) (quoting Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie ......
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20 cases
  • Tanvir v. FNU Tanzin, Docket No. 16-1176
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • May 2, 2018
    ...Stenberg v. Carhart , 530 U.S. 914, 942, 120 S.Ct. 2597, 147 L.Ed.2d 743 (2000) ; Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556, 575 (2d Cir. 2016) ("In general, statutory definitions control the meaning of statutory words.") (internal quotation marks omitted). Further......
  • Mobil Cerro Negro, Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Docket No. 15-707
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • July 11, 2017
    ...urges us to apply the rule of construction known as the "last-antecedent" rule. See Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States, 841 F.3d 556, 576 (2d Cir. 2016) (citing Lockhart v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 958, 962, 194 L.Ed.2d 48 (2016) ). Under that rule, in a lis......
  • Stand Up for Cal. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, Case No. 1:17-cv-00058 (TNM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • October 7, 2019
    ...the land into trust, and not by the title examination procedures."), aff'd sub nom., Upstate Citizens for Equal., Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556 (2d Cir. 2016). Stand Up does not have an interest in either the land acquisition or the title examination process, instead challenging the ......
  • Club One Casino, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, Case No. 1:16-cv-01908-AWI-EPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • July 13, 2018
    ...tribe "have jurisdiction" over the gaming site. Wampanoag Tribe , 853 F.3d at 624 ; Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. United States , 841 F.3d 556, 566 (2nd Cir. 2016)cert. denied , ––– U.S. ––––, ––– S.Ct. ––––, 199 L.Ed.2d 372 (2017) (quoting Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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