Friday, October 21, 2005

Ninth Circuit Upholds Tribal Immunity for Intra-Tribal Membership Disputes

In Lewis v. Norton, 424 F.3d 959 (9th Cir. Sep. 13, 2005) the Ninth Circuit affirmed the immunity of Indian tribes with respect to challenges to their determinations regarding tribal membership. The court also held that tribes could not be deemed to have waived their immunity with respect to such issues simply because the tribe has gone to court seeking federal recognition. Finally, the court held that the waiver of tribal immunity contained within the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was not broad enough to apply to disputes regarding tribal membership. The court indicated that plaintiffs' recourse would have to be to tribal courts.


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