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Lyon v. Gila River Indian Comm., No. 08-15570

Dispute Over Parcel Surrounded By Indian Lands

In Lyon v. Gila River Indian Comm., No. 08-15570, an action seeking a declaratory judgment that debtors' estate had legal title and access to a parcel of land surrounded by Indian lands, the court affirmed partial judgment for plaintiffs where 1) the trustee's claim of a pre-existing easement to access the parcel was not preempted by the existence of a regulatory scheme for obtaining new easements over Indian lands; and 2) the implied easement Arizona obtained from the federal government in 1877 was effectively conveyed to each subsequent purchaser of the parcel.  However, the court vacated in part where the district court erred in refusing to take judicial notice of this official action by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  • As the court wrote:  "This appeal involves a dispute between an Indian tribe and the trustee of a bankruptcy estate over the rights of access to and occupation of a parcel of land completely surrounded by Indian reservation land. The district court had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1334. We have jurisdiction to hear this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm in part and vacate in part."

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