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The SCOTUS 2018 Term's Indian Law Merits Docket: Reservation Status, Tax, and Hunting Rights Cases

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Description: The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in three Indian law cases that will be decided this Term—Carpenter v. Murphy, Washington Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., and Herrera v. Wyoming. Each involves issues that will have substantial practical and legal effect on both the parties and others. Carpenter raises the question whether the 1866 territorial boundaries of the Creek Nation remain in place. If so, a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, will become “Indian country” for civil and criminal jurisdiction purposes. The respondent has challenged his state-law conviction for capital murder on the ground that the crime occurred within the Creek Nation’s 19th century boundaries, and therefore within Indian country, even though Oklahoma has exercised jurisdiction over the area since statehood. Cougar Den presents a recurring Indian law issue: whether a tribal member’s business operations are subject to state taxation. The challenged tax is Washington’s motor fuel excise tax whose legal incidence attached off reservation at the time Cougar Den tankers brought the fuel into Washington from Oregon. Cougar Den contends that an 1855 treaty provision exempts such shipments from taxation when transported on any public highway. Finally, in Herrera the Supreme Court is asked to overrule expressly Ward v. Race Horse (1896), which held that Wyoming’s admission to statehood abrogated the off-reservation hunting rights of the Eastern Band of Shoshones and Bannock Tribe reserved under an 1868 treaty. The petitioner in Herrera is a member of the Crow Tribe, a party to another 1868 treaty containing the same off-reservation hunting right provision, who was convicted of taking elk in a national forest without compliance with Wyoming law.
  • Learn the nuances of the cases that the Supreme Court will be deciding.
  • Prepare to listen in a more informed manner to the oral argument or read the argument transcript.
Moderator: Derek Schmidt, Attorney General, State of Kansas
Carpenter v. Murphy: Whether the 1866 territorial boundaries of the Creek Nation within the former Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma constitute an “Indian reservation” today under 18 U.S.C. § 1151(a).
Presenter: Mithun Mansinghani, Solicitor General, State of Oklahoma
Washington Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc.: Whether the Yakama Treaty of 1855 creates a right for tribal members to avoid state taxes on off-reservation commercial activities that make use of public highways.
Presenter: Fronda C. Woods, former Assistant Attorney General, State of Washington
Herrera v. Wyoming: Whether Wyoming’s admission to the Union or the establishment of the Bighorn National Forest abrogated the Crow Tribe of Indians’ 1868 federal treaty right to hunt on the “unoccupied lands of the United States,” thereby permitting the present-day criminal conviction of a Crow member who engaged in subsistence hunting for his family.
Presenter: John G. Knepper, Chief Deputy Attorney General, State of Wyoming

Practice Areas: Native Populations & Tribal Law
Online Media Type: Audio
Production Date: 11/15/2018
Level: Intermediate
Category: Standard
Duration: 1 Hours, 36 Minutes
Online Format: On Demand

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Total Credits: 1.5
Specialty Credits: 
Status: Reciprocal Credit Available
Expiration: 11/14/2021
Training Type: Online

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Derek Schmidt - Attorney General Kansas
Mithun Mansinghani - Solicitor General, State of Oklahoma
Fronda Woods - Formerly with the Washington Attorney General's Office
John G. Knepper - Chief Deputy Attorney General, State of Wyoming
This product is designed to provide information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

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