Supreme Court has ruled in Nebraska Tribe's favor in a Reservation Boundary Dispute; Not applicable locally, Co. Attorney Asserts

(Washington, D.C.) - The United State Supreme Court today issued a decision affirming a lower court ruling in the State of Nebraska that said only Congress can change the boundaries of a reservation. The case, Nebraska vs. Parker, came about when the Omaha Tribe amended its beverage control act in 2006 "permitting tribes to regulate liquor sales on reservation land and in Indian Country." The Tribe asserted they had jurisdiction over the town of Pender and liquor retailers there. The town countered and said they were not within the boundaries of the reservation or within Indian Country. According to the Supreme Court Decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the original boundaries of the Omaha reservation had not been diminished by Congress, even though reservation land had been sold by the Department of the Interior. The town of Pender was later located within the land that had been sold. The court ruled that the sale of the land did not diminish the reservation and that Pender was, in fact, within the original boundary of the Omaha Reservation. "Only Congress may diminish the boundaries of an Indian reservation, and its intent to do so must be clear (Solem v Bartlett, 465 U.S. 463, 470)," the decision cited. How would this impact the current suit brought by Riverton, Fremont County and the State of Wyoming against an EPA ruling that placed the city within the exterior boundaries of the Wind River Reservation for Air Quality Management? Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney Patrick LeBrun this afternoon said he didn't think the Nebraska case had any bearing on the local suit for several reasons. "In trying to decide whether Congress diminished a Reservation, the first thing the Justices look at is the language of the Congressional Act that allowed the sale of the land. Then they look at historical transcripts from Congress to ascertain what (Congress) was saying on the floor," he said. LeBrun said they look for the intent of the sale. Was it to sell the land for non-natives or an intent to diminish the Reservation? "The third thing they look at is how the natives and non-natives treated that particular land after the sale." In this instance, according to the court record, the Omaha Tribe had a century-long absence from the disputed lands. "In my opinion, in the case of Nebraska v. Parker, the language of the act and the words used by Congress when authorizing the sale was 'survey and sell.' Nothing in that Congressional act in any way diminished the Reservation." "It is very clear and distinguishable from our case," he said. "In our case, the language doesn't limit to survey and sell, but uses language reasonably and arguably shows the intent to diminish. In the Nebraska case, the intent not to diminish was very clear. That's not our situation. We have language with intent to diminish." "If you want my opinion, this will have minimal impact on our situation." Feature Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court Building ( via Google Images / Pitchengine Communities) #county10 #news