Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Enrolled Members of Blackfeet Tribe v. Crowe

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

September 5, 2018

ENROLLED MEMBERS OF THE BLACKFEET TRIBE aka Treaty Status Indians; RICHARD HORN; DUANE MANY HIDES; ROY INGRAM; ERNEST OLSON; LARRY M. REEVIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
THEDUS CROWE; KEVIN K. WASHBURN; SALLEY JEWELL; BARACK OBAMA, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Richard Horn, Duane Many Hides, Roy Ingram, Ernest Olson and Larry M. Reevis have filed an Amended Complaint pro se. (Doc. 29). Plaintiffs are all enrolled members of the Blackfeet Tribe. The named Defendants consist of Thedus Crowe, a Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent; Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Salley Jewell, Secretary of the Interior; and Barack Obama, former President of the United States.

         Plaintiffs challenge the integrity of the Blackfeet Water Compact that was executed by the Blackfeet Tribe, the State of Montana, and the United States in 2009. (Docs. 1, 11-15, 29). Plaintiffs allege that the Blackfeet Water Compact is invalid for the following two reasons: 1) the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council lacked the authority under tribal law to negotiate and ratify the Compact on behalf of the Blackfeet Tribe; and 2) the referendum election through which the Tribal membership adopted the Compact violated Article IX of the Blackfeet Constitution, given that less than one-third of the eligible voters of the Blackfeet Tribe voted in the election. (Doc. 29 at 2-3).

         Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, monetary relief and mandamus relief. Plaintiffs request that the Court transfer “legal title to all natural resources on . . . the Blackfeet Indian [R]eservation” to them. (Doc. 1 at 2). Plaintiffs request that the Court stop the “illegal disposition of the Blackfeet tribal property.” Id. Plaintiffs request that the Court prohibit the state of Montana “from exercising adjudicatory jurisdiction over the Blackfeet Indian [R]eservation and Blackfeet [T]ribal Water Right(s).” Id. Plaintiffs request that the Court grant them “Title to all water ways originating or passing through the Blackfeet Indian [R]eservation, ” and Plaintiffs seek “compensatory . . . damages for the illegal capture and utilization of . . . Tribal Water Right[s].” (Doc. 1 at 3).

         Defendants have moved to dismiss this action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may granted.

         The court conducted a hearing on the Defendants' motion to dismiss on August 22, 2018.

         BACKGROUND

         The Blackfeet Tribe, the State of Montana, and the United States executed the Blackfeet Water Compact in 2009. The Montana legislature codified the Compact at Mont. Code Ann. § 85-20-1501. The stated purpose of the Compact was “to settle for all time any and all claims to federal reserved water rights for the Blackfeet Tribe within the boundaries of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.” Id. The Compact quantifies the Blackfeet Tribe's federal reserved water rights. Id. The Compact describes the terms under which the Blackfeet Tribe may use, lease, contract, or exchange portions of its water rights. Id. The Compact protects the rights of non-Indian water users, and the Compact provides for federal and state funding for water related infrastructure projects on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Id. The federal government has agreed to contribute $422 million for water related infrastructure projects on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The state of Montana has agreed to contribute $49 million. (Doc. 33 at 19).

         The United States Congress ratified the Compact under the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, P.L. 114-322, 130 Stat. 1841, § 3701 et seq. in December of 2016. The Blackfeet Tribe voted to approve both the Blackfeet Water Compact (the state legislation) and the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act (the federal legislation) in April of 2017, in a referendum election conducted by the Blackfeet Business Council. The Blackfeet Tribe approved the Blackfeet Water Compact and the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act by a vote of 1, 894 in favor to 631 against. See Blackfeet Tribal Resolution No. 152-2017.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Dismiss Legal Standard

         A complaint may be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction may challenge the sufficiency of the allegations of the complaint (a facial challenge), or it may challenge the truth of the allegations regarding the existence of subject matter jurisdiction (a factual challenge). See White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000).

         Here, the challenge to jurisdiction is a facial attack because the Defendants contend that the allegations of jurisdiction contained in the pleadings are insufficient on their face to demonstrate the existence of jurisdiction. When reviewing a facial challenge to jurisdiction, the Court must assume that all material allegations in the complaint are ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.