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Dispute Over Indian Land Borders, and Criminal Case

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By FindLaw Staff on May 06, 2010 1:44 PM

Yankton Sioux Tribe v. Podhradsky, No. 08-1441, involved an action by the Yankton Sioux Tribe seeking a declaratory judgment that all land not ceded to the U.S. in 1894 remained part of the Sioux Reservation under the jurisdiction of the Tribe and the federal government.  The court of appeals affirmed in part the district court's order that some 37,600 acres of trust land remained part of the reservation and that land continuously owned in fee by individual Indians also qualified as reservation, holding that 1) defendants' evidence was not truly "new" in the sense that it could not have reasonably been developed and presented in earlier stages of this litigation; 2) it was clear from the circumstances surrounding the Tribe's agreement to sell its surplus lands that the Tribe did not intend to relinquish immediate jurisdiction over the allotments and that it would not be required to part with them; and 3) the district court did not err in its conclusion that all lands taken into trust by the Secretary of the Interior fell within the jurisdiction of the Yankton Sioux Reservation and qualified as Indian country under 18 U.S.C. section 1151(a).  However, the court of appeals vacated the district court's order in part, on the ground that a number of potentially important facts were missing with respect to Indian owned fee lands continuously held by tribal members.

In US v. Hamilton, 09-2687, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of an explosive device and possession of an unregistered destructive device, holding that defendant forfeited his right to challenge the classification of a prior state conviction as a crime of violence.

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